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A green Boxing Day

Follow these tips to avoid food waste and improve recycling this Christmas
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
Celebrating Christmas holidays with a group of friends, toasting with champagne

Christmas can be pricey at the best of times, and this year budgets are likely to be tighter.

Love Food Hate Waste is sharing festive food waste prevention tips that can help save people money by making your Yuletide food go further.

UK food waste

Each year in the UK, approximately 6.6 million tonnes of food go to waste from our homes. This represents 70% of the UK’s total food waste.

A whopping 4.5 million tonnes is food that could have been eaten – 2 million tonnes of which wasn’t used in time.

Of our annual total food waste, the amount of poultry thrown away in one year could make 800 million Boxing Day curries.

Enough potatoes are binned each year to make roasties for Christmas Day for the whole country, for 48 years.

And the amount of carrots thrown away every year by UK homes could feed Santa’s nine reindeer a carrot a day for nearly 500,000 years.

The cost to households is around £14 billion a year, or £730 for an average family. There is also a significant environmental cost, as the waste produces 25 million tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Inspiration for leftovers

Each Christmas, thousands of households take time during the festive break to log on to Love Food Hate Waste to look for a tasty recipes to stop leftover festive foods going to waste, and for tips on how to freeze and reuse uneaten items.

Boxing Day is the busiest day for home chefs looking for inspiration to transform leftovers into tasty stomach fillers.

Searches range from recipe ideas for using up classic Christmas staples to guidance on freezing leftover meat.

The Love Food Hate Waste Portion Planner can help save money by guiding people towards the best number of parsnips and other trimmings to serve, no matter the number of guests.

The A to Z Storage Guide is the best Christmas present in terms of helping to keep any food in top condition for as long as possible.

Earlier this year, WRAP demonstrated that fresh produce can stay fresher for longer in the fridge, with refrigerated apples lasting two and a half months longer than those in a fruit bowl!

Avoid wasting turkey

Poultry is number eight in the top 10 most wasted foods in the UK, with 100,000 tonnes ending up in the bin every year.

Most of this waste is chicken, the nation’s favourite meat, but at Christmas it is all about turkey.

Leftover turkey can be stored in the fridge for up to two days, but turkeys usually produce more than a couple of days’ worth of leftovers.

Freeze the excess turkey and defrost either in the fridge or using the microwave on the defrost setting directly before reheating. The golden rule? Only reheat once.

Buy frozen veg

Fresh vegetables and salad are the most wasted food group in the UK. We waste 1.3 million tonnes of perfectly good fresh veggies and salads every year, costing £2.7 billion.

Swapping highly wasted fresh foods for frozen options (’swaptions’) could help to reduce food waste – they last for months and you can use what you need when you need it.

Frozen vegetables (including your Brussel sprouts) can be cooked from frozen. Top tip: when preparing fresh veg for freezing, blanch in boiling water for a few minutes and plunge into cold water before freezing.

Christmas wrapping

During the festive period – and on any day of the year – you can find out exactly what can and can’t be recycled in your area using Recycle Now’s Recycling Locator.

This is the best way to manage the influx of Christmas packaging and wrapping and help Recycle right this Christmas.
Visits to Recycle Now and searches for the ‘twelve most commonly queried items’ rise significantly between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, showing that as a nation we like to have our recycling sorted nice and early in the New Year.

By far the most queried Christmas questions is what to do with your Christmas tree, then decorations and packaging, and finally the faulty Christmas lights.

Recycle Now expects the same high volume of visits to its Recycling Locator this year, for advice on what and where to recycle – anywhere in the UK.

Top tips for Christmas recycling

Do the wrapping paper scrunch test to see if you can recycle it. If it springs back, it contains plastic and can’t be recycled. Paper and Christmas cards covered in glitter are not recyclable.

Remember to remove ribbons, bows, batteries and other extras before recycling. 

If you buy a tree that still has its roots attached, you can plant it out in the garden to enjoy throughout the year as well as for future Christmases.

If you don’t have space for it, or if you’ve bought a cut tree that no longer has its roots, your local council is likely to have a collection point or may even pick up your tree from your home in the new year (check your local council’s website).

Trees can be recycled into wood chips or shredded and composted. If you have a fake tree, it can’t be recycled, but it can be reused! Charities and care homes will often take artificial trees, and if they’re in good condition, they could also be resold at a charity shop or online.

Flatten cardboard boxes to make more room in your recycling bin, bag or box. Empty, rinse and squash plastic bottles and pop the lid back on. 

Buy recyclable Christmas crackers and avoid single-use plastic gift crackers and those covered in glitter as these cannot be recycled.

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