By Anders Lorenzen
With the focus on consumerism during the Christmas period, it might not surprise many that consumption is higher during the festive period than the rest of the year. What may be more surprising is the extent of waste that is being associated with that consumption, much of which could be avoided.
New research from London Cleaning System has unveiled some staggering stats in relation to UK’s Christmas waste: overall we waste 30% more at this time than any other time of the year.
The researchers found that much of this waste could be avoided and that wastefulness is symptomatic of a lack of understanding and education around the issue, as well as some carelessness.
Each Christmas a staggering 300,000 tonnes of packaging materials is used, each year 6 million Christmas trees, 2 million turkeys, 74 million mince pies and 17.2 million Brussel sprouts are thrown away as well as 13,350 tonnes of glass.
To put this into context, alone the packaging could wrap the iconic Big Ben 260,000 times. In terms of paper, 1 billion Christmas cards are estimated to have been thrown away instead of, being recycled. As for wrapping paper, the waste amounts to enough to wrap the entire equator nine times.
By the end of Christmas, 250 tonnes of trees end up in landfill sites instead of being composted or the wood recycled. And if you’re thinking about being environmentally friendly and substituting your real Christmas tree with a plastic one, which some are starting to do, it is worth bearing in mind that they have to be used for at least ten years in order to keep their environmental impact to less than that of a real tree: plastic has a large carbon footprint.
Though the UK are currently meeting its landfill site reduction targets, the combined uptake of waste and lack of recycling has serious environmental and climate change consequences.
Leading environmentalist Philip Patenall responded to these finding with concern “an excess in waste like this can cause serious problems, not just a waste of money and resources. It creates methane gas; which as we know contributes to greenhouse gases, produces toxic fumes and causes air pollution and litter.”
Will these staggering stats provide a wake-up call to people over the festive period this year and push for a shift in behavioural change?