Christmas can be a time when so much gets wasted or thrown away - but it doesn't need to be that way!

We've gathered some top tips and videos to help you have a Zero Waste Christmas.


Did you know that on average we waste £4 billion on unwanted gifts every year! This year, instead of giving unwanted gifts, why not use this gift-giving hierarchy as inspiration?

Instead of buying presents this year could you plant trees or make a charitable donation? Instead of buying material gifts, could you give your friends and family an experience?

Instead of buying new, could you buy something secondhand? Have a look at our Donating and Buying Secondhand page for inspiration. Could you make a gift yourself? (Hint - baked goodies always go down a treat!)

Finally, if you are buying new, look to support local businesses that offer ethical produce! We've shared a list of zero waste shops in Leeds to help you get started! There is also the brilliant #BuyLeeds campaign, which is a directory of independent ​businesses in Leeds that people might want to buy from this Christmas to support our local economy. It's been put together by a great team of people for free and it's free to advertise your business on there. The Directory makes it so easy for customers to find local independents and to spend money with them. Businesses can register by completing their online form.

Here's just one idea for a Zero Waste Christmas gift from Celia at Leeds Bike Mill. Leeds Bike Mill - a not-for-profit community bike recycling and training co-op based on Mabgate Green - is the perfect place to look for an affordable secondhand bike, or to gift new or secondhand accessories. Unfortunately due to Covid-19, this year the vouchers for bike maintenance training courses are not available.

Gift Wrapping

Did you know that the UK uses around 227,000 miles of wrapping paper each year? That’s enough to wrap around the world more than nine times! Most wrapping paper has also been chemically dyed, laminated and mixed with non-paper material like foil and glitter(which is basically little bits of plastic) making it non-recycleable. And that’s before you add the ribbon, gift tags, cellophane and sticky tape.

Avoid single-use wrap with these creative ideas:

Time to wrap your presents? Luc from EcoTopia tells us how to be a 'wrap star' and not a 'waste maker'. Lots of easy low-cost tips and tricks here!


Did you know that 1 billion Christmas cards will end up in bins this year! That’s the equivalent of 33 million trees.

Whilst sending and receiving Christmas cards is a really nice way of staying in touch, there are a few ways that you could reduce their environmental impact.

Firstly, glitter is a big no on cards - it means that they can’t be recycled as the glitter clogs up machinery and contaminates recyclables. Most glitter is also made from plastic, which contributes to the growing problem of microplastics in the environment.

It’s worth also being aware that any adornments like shiny or glossy materials, music players, metallic ink, or metal charms must be removed before cards can go in the recycling bin. If you are sending cards, the best option is to avoid adornments and buy cards made from recycled paper that can then easily be recycled again.

An even more sustainable option is to send e-cards! Lots of charities allow you to send these free or for a small donation e.g. Shelter, Marie Curie, Alzheimer’s Society, Friends of the Earth, Card Aid, Oxfam, Macmillan cancer care, WWF and more.


Scrap decorations? No way, we’re not doing that! Ah you mean use scrap for decorations.

Artist Alison Gordon specialises in using just about anything she can lay her hands on to make the most wonderful creations. She’s back giving some top tips in these videos filmed at Scrap Creative Reuse Art Project in Farsley in 2019. Why not have a look at the SCRAP website for inspiration.

Christmas Tree

The age-old question - is it more environmental to buy a fake tree or real tree?

According to the Carbon Trust, a real Christmas tree has a significantly lower carbon footprint than an artificial one, especially if it is disposed of properly. By far the best option is a potted tree which, with care, can be replanted after the festive season and re-used year after year.

The advice on artificial trees is that if you’ve already got one, keep using it. It would need to be used for at least 10 years to have a lower environmental impact than a real one.


Did you know that 54 million plates of food get thrown away every Christmas? Leeds chef Anthony O'Shaughnessy gives his top 3 'waste busting' tips. They're good ones too!