Show the planet some Christmas cheer this year.

Look to the future now. It’s only just begun…

WRAP’s Love Food Hate Waste and Recycle Now campaigns give their annual practical advice on how to have a sustainable Christmas.

Love Food Hate Waste

WRAP’s latest research shows that food waste costs a four-person household in the UK around £1,000 per year in food bought, but not eaten. Of the 6.4 million tonnes of food and drink thrown away at home during 2021, a huge 4.7 million tonnes could have been eaten.

Potatoes, cooked leftovers (homemade/pre-prepared meals), and bread top the UK’s wasted food table. UK households throw away 300,000t of meat and fish a year, costing £3.2 billion.

It is easy to go overboard when doing the Christmas food shop but here are Love Food Hate Waste’s top tips for preventing food waste this Christmas:


Poultry is in the top 10 most wasted foods in the UK, at number six. The main reason for poultry waste is ‘prepared, cooked, served too much’ and most of the waste is made up from meat from whole birds. Most poultry waste is chicken – it’s our favourite meat – but at Christmas it’s all about turkey, and the problem is exactly the same. So, it’s important to use up those leftovers.

Any kind of leftovers (apart from rice, which is strictly 24 hours) can be stored in the fridge for up to two days. The chances are there’s going to be a lot more left over from a Christmas turkey than from a usual Sunday roast, so freezing leftover cooked meat is useful – and perfectly safe. If you’re going to freeze your leftover cooked turkey, it should be done as soon as possible.

It doesn’t matter if you cook your turkey from frozen or fresh, you can use the leftovers to make a new meal, for example, a curry, which can then be frozen.

There are only two safe ways to defrost (raw or cooked meat/poultry): in the fridge or using the microwave on the defrost setting directly before cooking/re-heating.

The rule to remember is to only re-heat once.

Both Love Food Hate Waste and the Food Standards Agency have some great advice about defrosting and cooking turkey and using up the leftovers in delicious dishes:


The humble potato is the most wasted food in the UK.

Potatoes need to be stored in the fridge (new FSA advice). They can be parboiled and frozen to get ahead of the Christmas rush. It’s best to ‘open freeze’ on a tray and then transfer to an airtight container. This is so they don’t all stick together and you can take out as many as you need when you come to roast them – straight from the freezer. Alternatively, you can buy frozen roasties, all ready to go.

Frozen veg – Brussel sprouts, cabbage, carrots

There are a couple of options for veg. You can buy fresh, blanch and freeze or buy frozen.

Fresh vegetables and salad is in the most wasted food group in the UK. Swapping highly wasted fresh foods for frozen options (’swaptions’) could help to reduce food waste, because it lasts for ages and you can use as much as you need when you need it. Frozen vegetables can be cooked from frozen.

Something people might not know: most frozen vegetables, including sweetcorn, need to be cooked – even if you want to eat them cold. If you intend to use frozen sweetcorn or other vegetables as part of a cold salad, for example, check the instructions on the packaging first. If the advice is that the frozen sweetcorn/ vegetables should be cooked, you must ensure that this is done before eating cold. 

Check out our useful links here:

Recycle Now

Recycle Now has an invaluable tool on their website, the Recycling Locator, which enables you to find out exactly what you can and cannot recycle in your area. By popping in your postcode, you can tell if your tree can be collected by your local authority, if you can pop your plastics in the recycling or if those plastic bags and wrapping need dropping to your local supermarket.

Top tips for recycling this Christmas:

  • Why not re-use some paper this year? It’s not what it is wrapped in but what’s inside that counts. You can now buy plain paper, not covered in glitter or foil, which is much easier to recycle at home. Also, don’t forget the wrapping paper scrunch test to see if you can recycle it. Scrunch it into a ball – if it springs back, it contains plastic and can’t be recycled. If it stays as a ball – recycle it. Paper and Christmas cards covered in glitter are NOT recyclable. Remember to also remove ribbons, bows, batteries, and other adornments before recycling. 
  • Christmas can be a great time to think about ways to be kinder to the environment, why not consider planting a tree this year? If you buy a tree that still has its roots attached, you can plant it out in the garden so that you can enjoy it throughout the year as well as for future Christmases. If you don’t have space for it, or if you’ve bought a cut tree that no longer has its roots, your local council is likely to have a collection point or may even pick up your tree from your home in the New Year (check your local council’s website). Trees can be recycled into wood chips or shredded and composted. If you have an artificial tree – this can’t be recycled, but it can be reused! Charities, care homes will often take artificial trees, and if they’re in good condition, they could also be resold at a charity shop or online.
  • Did you know that fairy lights can be recycled with small electricals at Recycling Centres? Some local authorities collect small electricals as part of their recycling collections and may also provide collection bins at other sites too, for example at supermarkets.
  • Flatten cardboard boxes to make more room in your recycling bin, bag or box. 
  • Empty, rinse and squash plastic bottles and pop the lid back on. 
  • You can now buy recyclable Christmas Crackers; to avoid single use plastic gifts. Crackers covered in glitter cannot be recycled.

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