It’s the most wasteful time of the year – so what do you do with your leftovers once the big day has been and gone?
The chances are that today you’re reflecting on the slight over-consumption from yesterday’s feast and slightly shocked by the mountains of leftovers – if not, then well done you!
Earlier this year, we talked about recycling and waste and wondered if our efforts are a bit rubbish. Well, I was prompted to think about Christmas waste after reading about a Finnish energy company that’s set to turn some of the country’s Christmas leftovers into renewable diesel.
It calculates that the waste fat from a single joint of roast ham, which it will collect from households and restaurants in recyclable cardboard boxes, can be converted into about two miles’ worth of fuel for a car.
And with seven million kilogrammes of ham cooked each Christmas in Finland, the company reckons it can produce enough fuel to power a car driving three times around the world.
What a waste
It got me thinking about the amount of waste my own household produces at this time of year – and, more importantly, what I could do to reduce its impact on the environment.
It’s been reported that over Christmas, UK households generate around 30% more waste. Collectively, we’ll throw away 13,350 tonnes of glass; 4,500 tonnes of foil and 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper.
We’ll also buy some 10 million turkeys. 370 million mince pies and 25 million Christmas puds – on average, we’ll end up binning a quarter of this.
But most of this can either be recycled or upcycled.
Reusing Christmas leftovers
Take the food leftovers. My family’s never been one to waste tonnes of grub, so what’s not eaten on Christmas Day will get turned into something else.
The veg peelings will go on the compost heap, and the leftover veg will pop up in something like bubble & squeak. The turkey will become a curry and maybe some pies that’ll be popped in the freezer for a quick meal later in the year (when turkey’s a novelty again).
For inspiration, you could have a look at Jamie Oliver’s tips on using up left over food. Or you could use Love Food Hate Waste’s portion planner, so you don’t buy/make too much food in the first place.
Then there’s the wrapping paper. My nan used to despair at us kids tearing into our presents while she’d carefully unwrap hers so she could save the paper for the following year. You could also help keep the wrapping paper mountain down by creating your own using festive cuttings from newspapers/magazines that you’d ordinarily put in the recycling after reading.
With the cards, you could follow my nan’s lead and use them as gift tags the following year. Or, if you’re remotely crafty, cut them down to create your own handmade cards/decorations/advent calendars the following year.
And while glass is easily recyclable, why not keep a few of the empty jars/bottles for when you make jam/chutney/sloe gin for the next Christmas?
What are your top tips for reducing your waste at Christmas? Do you get inventive with your leftovers?