Environmental companies and organisations are warning people to try reducing the amount of food, packaging and energy they waste over the festive season and think about caring for the planet.

Online journal Commercial Waste Magazine has created a graphic (pictured) to highlight the amount of waste and pollution generated in the UK throughout the Christmas season. Their research revealed that 80 per cent more food is consumed at this time of the year than during any other time of the year, and a lot more energy:

  • Christmas tree lights are switched on for an average of ten hours a day, producing enough CO2 to fill five party balloons.
  • The UK’s combined Christmas dinners produce the same carbon footprint as a car travelling 6,000 times around the world.
  • If we placed all our Christmas cards alongside one another they would stretch around the world 500 times.
  • Thirty-five per cent of people admit that they throw away more food at Christmas than any other time of the year.

Dutch electric vehicle manufacturer New Motion pointed out that the amount of electricity spent on lighting Christmas trees in the UK this December could take an electric vehicle on more than 308 journeys to and from Lapland, or send a space shuttle to and from the moon nearly 42 times.

Litter awareness body Zero Waste Scotland says, collectively, people living in Scotland could save more than £90 million by not wasting food this festive season. With 50,375 tonnes of food and drink expected to be binned in December, Scots are being encouraged to shop smart and save money simply by avoiding food waste. The national body is expecting the equivalent of over 700,000 wheelie bins full of food to be thrown away this month, including over 3.5 million mince pies, more than 240,000 Christmas puddings, and the equivalent of over 100,000 turkeys. They have plenty of suggestions to use these items up or they suggest not over-buying them in the first place.

In a bid to encourage more businesses to reduce their food waste, leading food waste recycling company ReFood is donating money to homeless charities in five of the UK’s biggest cities over the winter period for every new bin ordered.

Commercial property cleaners London Cleaning System published their own statistics, saying that 30 per cent more waste is created over the festive season. Quite apart from the millions of turkeys and mince pies binned during over Christmas, their research showed that:

  • Around 300,000 tonnes of card packaging is used at Christmas; enough to cover Big Ben almost 260,000 times, much of it unnecessary.
  • 250 tonnes of Christmas trees are simply thrown away after Christmas, when they could be used for compost!
  • One billion cards end up in the bin, when they could be recycled.

Commercial Waste Magazine’s figures showed that 227,000 miles of wrapping paper and 125,000 tonnes of plastic are thrown away every year in the UK at this time. The authors say this is particularly worrying when you realise that 3.5 kg of carbon dioxide is released for every 1kg of wrapping paper. As for Christmas trees, they say the UK buys 6-8 million real trees a year that are produced in East Asia, meaning that they have to be shipped hundreds of thousands of miles, despite the fact that real trees are biodegradable and are grown for a period of ten years.

Image courtesy of Commercial Waste Magazine.