How to have a plastic-free Christmas!

How to have a plastic-free Christmas!
We love this plastic-free wrapping and homemade gift tag from our Head of Education!

As Christmas draws closer, we want to encourage our members and supporters to make a difference to the marine environment and go plastic-free!

In recent years, plastic pollution has become one of the most widely recognised issues facing the world’s oceans and there has been growing concern, from both the scientific community and the general public, about its presence within the ocean and its potential to cause harm. Christmas is full of fun (and glitter) but according to a survey carried out in 2018, UK households can produce up to 30% more waste than usual during the festive season. Much of this increase in waste,is paper, cardboard and food waste, however, metal and plastic waste is continuing to rise. Plastic pollution in the ocean kills over one million seabirds and over 100,000 marine mammals every year. This pollution enters our oceans through waterways (washed down the drain or flushed down the toilet), blown from land (either directly into the sea or into rivers and streams), industrial outfalls and discarded from coastal communities. Plastic harms marine life through entanglement or ingestion and destroys habitats. Even glitter (which is everywhere at Christmas) is a microplastic and can have a huge impact on the marine environment.

By making just a few small changes this Christmas you can have a wider impact on the marine environment, so here are a few ideas and changes you can make to do your bit and protect our oceans:

  1. Plastic-free wrapping

Although many companies are now improving their wrapping paper to make it recyclable and have even removed the plastic packaging it comes in, most wrapping paper is in fact not recyclable (especially those covered in glitter). 

So how can you make your presents waste-free?

Give your presents and nostalgic look and use something fully recyclable, like brown paper or decorative fabric to wrap your presents. Avoid using sellotape to secure your gifts and use paper twine to tie them up. Finally, give your presents a final personal touch by using recycled scrap paper to make your own tags!

There are also plenty of tutorial videos available on YouTube with instructions of how to wrap presents without the use of tape or ribbon entirely!

  1. Alternative Christmas cards

Many people are now steering away from sending Christmas cards and are even donating the money they would have spent on purchasing and sending them to their favourite charities. 

So how can you make sending Christmas cards better for the environment? Reduce microplastics and send cards that aren’t covered in glitter or instead of posting cards, find a fun and quirky e-card to send to your friends and family – a much cheaper alternative too!  

  1. Homemade decorations

Who wants their Christmas decorations to look the same as everyone else? So why not make your own unique plastic-free decorations - a fun activity for all the family to get involved with! 

Head to your local garden centre or seasonal sprigs including holly and mistletoe which make attractive rustic additions to your decor. You can make your own decorations from scrap fabric, old packaging and even bits of wood and pinecones like these amazing reindeer made by our Head of Science and Conservation!

Lucy wooden reindeer

You can get your children involved in making paper snowflakes and paper chains which they can decorate themselves (but remember not to cover them in that pesky glitter!). And finally, why not make your own salt dough decorations to hang on the tree?

  1. Reusable food shopping

The Christmas food shop is always a bit of a panic but, make sure you don’t forget your reusable bags!

Many supermarkets are improving their packaging by making it more environmentally friendly but when you’re buying your Christmas treats try to avoid food products with lots of unnecessary packaging and take your own air-tight containers for fresh foods. Support local businesses and ensure you are buying less packaging by heading to your local farmer’s markets and greengrocers to get your fruit and veg and even visit the local bakers for your bread, cake and mince pies!

  1. Donate

Support our work and donate to ORCA so we can continue to identify important whale and dolphin habitats and protect these amazing animals for the future.

And remember when you are enjoying a Christmas cocktail to avoid using a plastic straw or plastic drinks stirrers.