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T'is the season to be jolly good to the planet

Top tips to recycle your leftovers and keep Hertfordshire green this Christmas.

 December wrapping paper


Christmas time sees us create an extra 29,000 tonnes of waste each year in the UK. There are many ways we can reduce this, from packaging and wrapping from presents, to buying local and only buying as much as you need. Here are some other ways you can spoil loved ones not the planet, but there are many more in our alternative gift list

  • Talk to your family or friends about a Secret Santa between you , or ask everyone to offer a list so you know the gifts will be enjoyed.
  • Not sure what to buy? Use the shopping mantra "want, need, wear, read" to avoid gifts no one is going to use.
  • Choose a subscription for magazines or books. These can be paper copies or e-vouchers - for example Audible/Kindle.
  • With so many independent providers struggling after the pandemic, be sure to choose from a local or ethical bookshop.
  • Buy an experience instead of an item such as afternoon tea, escape rooms, theatre tickets, spa pampering or a day out. See websites like Groupon or Red Letter Days. 
  • Make your own gifts to avoid packaging. See Pinterest for hundreds of ideas.
  • Not crafty? Try to buy upcycled presents or gifts containing recycled content instead.
  • Try a local charity shop or reuse centre for a pre-loved bargain.
  • Have a look to see if there's something you already own that would make a nice gift.
  • Looking at toys for children? Consider wooden toys as they are more durable than plastic.
  • Batteries - If you’re buying a battery-powered gift , buy a set of reusable batteries to go with it. Remember batteries don't go in household bins. Dispose of them at your nearest tip or dedicated battery banks in shops.
  • Include a gift receipt so a gift can be exchanged without causing offence.
  • Subscribe to our rubbish and recycling e-bulletin for recycling tips throughout the year.



 Wrapping paper.



  • Glitter or foil paper can't be recycled – Choose not to buy it and put any you receive in your rubbish bin.
  • Plain wrapping paper (non-foil or glitter) can be recycled at your recycling centre. Remember!  Remove ribbons and bows before recycling wrapping paper.
  • If you’re likely to reuse it, opt for the best quality you can as it won’t rip upon opening.
  • Using gift bags is an easy way to reduce paper waste, as they can be re-used many times.
  • You could also consider using fabric gift wrap which can be used again each year (and for birthdays too).
  • Check what else you can recycle on our Recycle Right pages.

Christmas gathering


  • Disposable plates, cutlery and cups might seem like a cheap option, but if you invest in china or reusable plastic for parties they’ll last you a lot longer. See the problem with plastic.
  • You can also hire everything you'll need from the Party Kit Network.
  • Instead of buying individual cans of beer, see if you can hire a keg or growler of beer from your local brewery. Often the container can be returned for reuse. If you do have any empties, remember to recycle the glass bottles and cans at home or in local metal or glass recycling facilities.
  • Don’t waste your leftovers. Make sure you have enough storage containers, foil and Clingfilm to store them – better still wax wraps and food huggers!
  • Make your own cake! Sounds simple, but if everyone did, think of how much packaging could be saved. Plus you can be sure of all the ingredients in case of allergens.
  • Ban balloon and lantern releases as they cause litter when they come down.
  • Keep an eye out for Eco Crackers this year. There are plenty about, and if there is no glitter, foil or other stuck on bits, the cardboard can be recycled at home or in the cardboard container at your nearest recycling centre

christmas cards


  • Choose to buy cards that contain recycled content and avoid those in pre-packaged film or any that contain glitter and other stuck on bits.
  • Plain cards (no glitter or stuck on bits and gift tag) can be recycled in your home recycling bin or in the cardboard container at your recycling centre or cut them up to reuse as a gift.
Christmas tree



  • Donate your artificial tree to a charity shop (if it's in good condition).
  • Take real and artificial trees to your local recycling centre.
  • Check with your local council whether they collect real trees.
  • Remember!  Remove all decorations before you recycle your tree.



  • With a little care and repair your most loved outfit can party as hard as you. Visit Love Your Clothes for top tips to keep your clothes looking great.
  • When buying clothes, consider the best items you can afford. They are often better made and will be easy to look after. It might have a hefty price tag initially, but if you love it, the price per wear will be much better than a cheaper item you don’t really love.
  • Hiring an outfit or swapping with a friend is a budget way to look great.
  • Buying pre-loved clothes is another fabulous way to get a new look for a fraction of High Street prices.
  • Check our other fashion tips and see our new Swishing video:

christmas presents


  • Flatten cardboard before recycling it.
    Find out What happens to your recycled cardboard?
  • Consider using a suitable box from online deliveries as gift packaging, or to transport your gifts to loved ones.  
  • Remember to check your council calendar to confirm which day your bins are collected over the festive season.
  • Recycling Centres are open all bank holidays except for Christmas, Boxing and New Year's day. Check our webcams and tips to avoid the queues.
  • Remember to wash and squash your recycling. All your cans, aerosols and foil from mince pies and festive meat trays can be recycled.

A meat sandwich.


  • Over Christmas a horrifying 270,000 tonnes of food will be wasted including
    • 5 million Christmas puddings
    • 74 million mince pies
    • 2 million turkeys.

  • With uneaten food contributing to climate change, this is a something that has to change. Thankfully, we have some easy steps to make this manageable this Christmas.
  • Write a shopping list so you only buy what you need.
  • Plan your meals so you know what you’re cooking and make portion control your friend so you’ve not got enough food to feed the street!
  • Clear out your freezer ahead of time so you have space to freeze any left overs
  • Try these recipes for reusing your leftovers and make sure you have enough storage tubs.
  • Turn your unloved sprouts into something tasty – recipes using Christmas leftovers.
  • Freeze it to eat later.
  • Recycle food waste at home in your green waste or separate food collection service.

Top tips to reduce food waste

Wine bottles


  • Put them in your recycling bin at home.
  • Recycle them at local metal or glass recycling facilities.
  • Remember!  Rinse cans, glass and bottles first.


  • Wash them out and reuse them.
  • Put them in your recycling bin at home.
  • Recycle them at local metal or plastic recycling facilities.


Gift boxes.


  • To avoid being given items you don’t like or want, speak with family and friends about doing a secret santa, or offer a list of items you’d be happy to be given.
  • Make sure you include a gift receipt with anything that might need a change of size, e.g. clothing or that could be a duplicate.
  • For anything unwanted, give them a new home:

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