Christmas tips: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

How you can Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and save money this Christmas.

You can feel great about yourself all year round by reducing your waste, reusing and recycling all you can; and we’ll collect and recycle your real Christmas tree for free.

Research from the Independent newspaper highlighted that we throw away more than 4 million festive meals each year.

You must reduce, reuse and recycle this season

  • write a present list for each child, family member, partner and friend; this will help stop unwanted or duplicated presents and save you time and money
  • send e-cards instead of paper cards
  • plan your meals over the Christmas fortnight to make sure you only buy what you need, and try to stick to your shopping list
  • buy ‘nude’ vegetables (for example, no packaging) as they're usually cheaper and you can pick the exact quantity you need
  • give away unwanted presents to a local hospital, play centre, charity shop or school; this will clear the clutter from your home and may help raise money for a good cause

Festive 'reuse' tips

  • if you still have Christmas cards from last year, turn them into gift tags, or Christmas tree decorations; especially cards with glitter, as these can't be recycled
  • use old cardboard packaging to box awkwardly shaped gifts, for easier wrapping
  • take reusable bags when you go Christmas shopping, they’ll help to disguise what presents you’ve bought and where you purchased them from

Festive 'recycle' tips

  • use old magazines and newspapers for wrapping, or buy paper that isn’t metallic, plastic or glittery as they can't be recycled
  • all of the following can be recycled in Southwark:
    • foil
    • aerosols
    • plastic cleaner bottles
    • plastic toiletry containers
    • plastic food trays, pots and tubs
    • cans
    • food and drink cartons (such as Tetra Paks)
    • paper
    • card
    • glass
  • if you have a food waste collection, don’t forget all food waste and plate scrapings can be put in your brown bin

Do I have to recycle this Christmas?

  • yes, recycling is now mandatory in Southwark and is required by government legislation
  • recycling should now be placed in the correct bin for that material
  • this mandatory law change will enable Southwark Council to increase its recycling rate as well as have many other environmental benefits

Christmas waste and recycling collection dates 2023

Collections over the Christmas season 2023 will run a day behind. The week after the New Year, collections are back to normal.

To find out when your collection will take place, visit our collection schedules.






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Christmas tree recycling

We’ll collect and recycle your real Christmas tree for free! Simply remove all decorations, including any pot or stand, and do one of the following:

  • put out your Christmas tree with your food and garden waste containers on your collection day
  • if you don’t have a food or garden waste collection, you need to request a free collection 
  • you can also bring your Christmas tree to our Reuse and Recycling centre 


Page last updated: 31 January 2024


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