Guest Blog by Annabel Ridsdale, MSc Marine Conservation student at University of Plymouth

With all the partying over the merry season, there is little time to sit down and ponder the waste left behind from standard traditions. The festive season is the most wasteful time of the year – perhaps it’s time for a refresh?  

Picking a tree each year is an exciting activity for many families. But what happens to your tree in January? The Independent estimates that 6-8 million Christmas trees thrown out every year, and growing trees takes a lot of time and space. A 6 ft tree can take up to 15 years to grow, says The Christmas Tree Association. This field space could be used for food production like those yummy sprouts. Instead, you could invest in one amazing tree which you could plant in a pot at the end of the season. This ensures you can use it again each year, making it a true part of the family. If you wanted a new tradition for all-year round, you could choose a house plant instead such as a palm tree. Not only does this take less space and time to grow, but you could also use your all-year tree to place presents under – perfect for a birthday tree! 

Adding to the waste is store-bought advent calendars. Avoid plastic waste by designing your own. Add a personal touch by sourcing friends’ and families’ favourites from charity shops, saving the planet and your wallet. Whilst there, why not donate items at the same time? If you are creating one for a particularly picky person, you could donate a small sum to a charity close to their heart for that day. 

Lastly, crackers. We love the competition, the SNAP, and the jokes, but not the guilt that comes from the plastic toy that ends up in the bin. To reduce this plastic waste, what if you made your own? Reuse empty toilet roll tubes and decorate them with eco-friendly wrapping paper or simply leave them plain for that rustic look. Fill the crackers with personalised content such as fun-facts about your friends’ favourite animals, or home-made “I will cook your dinner” tokens – perfect for your lazy flat mate.  

Which of these tricks will you use to create an unforgettable holiday? Be sure to tag us on Facebook and Instagram