Reducing waste with a green Christmas

Have a green Christmas with simple ways to reduce your impact on the environment.

Before Christmas

Cards and wrapping paper

When you’re choosing cards and wrapping paper, think about whether they can be recycled. Anything with with glitter, foil, plastic or other non-paper parts can’t be recycled.

Charity gifts or vouchers for events or experiences make excellent presents, and don’t come with packaging. 


Each year we throw away 1 million tonnes of textiles and clothing. On average each piece of clothing is only worn seven times, but around this time of year it’s common to get a new outfit for a Christmas party that you may only wear once. Hunt down a designer bargain or unique vintage piece at your local charity shop.


Many shop-bought decorations come with lots of non-recyclable packing and will have travelled thousands of miles. The Orinoco Scrapstore has a huge range of very low-cost materials you can use to get creative and make your own decorations - watch this YouTube video for inspiration. If you’re not an arty type, look out for locally made items that will last for several Christmases to come. 


Lots of festive treats can be frozen until they are needed including:

  • Stilton
  • brandy butter
  • sprouts
  • gravy
  • cranberry sauces
  • stuffing
  • red cabbage
  • roast potatoes
  • Christmas cake.

Find more things you might not have known could be frozen.

During Christmas

Reduce food waste

Use a portion planner to find out how much to cook, depending on who’s coming for dinner. This will reduce waste and also save money.

Don’t forget to put left-over food into your food caddy for recycling. Bones, dairy products, vegetable peelings and all other cooked and uncooked food can be recycled. 

Cards and presents

Home-made cards and presents are much more personal, so keep the Christmas ribbons, paper and cards you receive this year and re-use them next year as gift tags or to make into cards again.

Recycling centres

Oxfordshire’s recycling centres will close early at 3pm on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve and are closed on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Boxing Day. All other days they will be open and ready to accept your real and fake Christmas trees, cardboard packaging and much more.

If your recycling bin is struggling to cope with all the extra bottles, cardboard, plastic and paper, put any that can’t fit into the bin in a clear plastic sack or cardboard box and put it out next to your bin on collection day. 

Your bin collection day might change due over Christmas. Check with your district council to make sure you don’t miss it.

After Christmas

Get the most out of your freezer and use it to store individual portions of labelled leftovers. Find lots of leftover recipe ideas.

Electrical items

Small broken electrical items or used batteries can be placed on top of your bin in a carrier bag and they will be collected for recycling. 

Unwanted gifts

Your local charity shop would love to rehome your unwanted Christmas gifts.

Christmas trees

Unwanted artificial Christmas trees can be donated to a charity shop, or if it’s no longer in good condition it can be taken to a Household Waste Recycling Centre.

If your real Christmas trees can't be replanted, you can take them to any Household Waste Recycling Centre. Some district councils will collect real trees on your blue/brown bin collection day or have designated drop-off points. You must remove lights, decorations and the pot.