How can I reduce food packaging waste at Christmas?

We love food in this house. We spend a lot of time talking about, thinking about and consuming food! And I am very much looking forward to a lovely meal with some of our extended family after such a long separation.

But… (You knew there was going to be a but didn’t you?)

Christmas is a time of excess for many of us. We produce as much as 30% more waste over the Christmas period than at any other time of the year (Engineering and Technology). Even with the COVID restrictions, I am sure we will all still be buying more than our normal quantities of food. And sadly some of those impulse buys, such as extra sprouts or cranberries and fancy cheese could end up in our bins. During Christmas the UK throws away an estimated 2 million turkeys, 5 million Christmas puddings and 74 million mince pies. (The Fact Site)

I’m not going to pretend it’s easy though, we have a constant battle in our house to avoid food waste, particularly with a fussy toddler! 

Even if we manage to buy less food, we could be too busy to notice the packaging it’s contained in. Unless we take time to make conscious shopping choices.

To be fair, supermarkets are becoming more aware of consumers’ concerns about unnecessary wrapping. And the food industry is having to make changes as they face increased costs for packaging recovery charges and the new plastic packaging tax. So things are improving but there is still a huge amount of plastic included in our food purchases.

So, what should we do as consumers? I think we need to be vigilant when shopping. Do you really need the onions in a net bag? They are probably cheaper bought loose anyway. When I buy fruit and veg, it just goes straight into my basket – most don’t need any wrapping. Once you start to pay attention to the plastic that comes with foods you will find it hard to ignore. A number of times I’ve gone into a shop in search of a plastic free snack and walked back out again not being able to find even w loose apple! You might even want to make a real statement and return all your food packaging to the store as suggested by Greenpeace in our video!

I personally try to avoid supermarkets as much as possible. I prefer to use local shops when I can. I have a lovely greengrocer in my street. And we are lucky to have two zero waste shops nearby. They are popping up everywhere now, Hooray! (Find your nearest zero waste shop) This means I can buy small amounts of fruit and veg and I can use my own containers for dry foods, detergents etc. I also have a veg box delivered – everything in paper or compostable bags of course and the delivery boxes get reused. I feel strongly that we should support these businesses that are really making the effort to consider their environmental impact.

Perhaps for this Christmas, as part of your meal planning, you could decide to seek out a local organic shop where you can get your festive trimmings package free. Or what about visiting your local butcher and asking for ethically sourced meat? Remember if we all make these small changes it can make a huge difference. And over the holidays you might make a New Year’s resolution to make just one more change in your food shopping habits. We would love to know what changes you make so leave a comment below or on our social media channels.

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