A Greener Christmas: Reducing Festive Waste

The City of Edinburgh Council is once again running a festive waste campaign aimed at encouraging residents to reduce Christmas waste. In the year of COP26 and with the city aiming to be net-zero by 2030, it's never been more vital that we do our part

Advertorial by Jamie Dunn | 01 Dec 2021
The City of Edinburgh Council
Promoted Content

Christmas is a time for giving. Unfortunately, it’s also a time for wasting. From the mountains of non-recyclable wrapping paper that pile up beneath our trees on Christmas Day to the plastic stocking-fillers that end up at the back of cupboards by Boxing Day to the Christmas food that we don’t get around to eating and end up binning by Hogmanay, it’s a time of year when our capitalistic excesses get the better of us. We all know that it's our responsibility to cut down on waste, but this doesn’t have to be a tall order. There are lots of small changes you can make this festive season that are not only good for the planet, but for your wallet too.

As the first city in Scotland to declare a climate emergency, with an ambitious goal of becoming net-zero by 2030, Edinburgh has a number of innovative projects designed to help encourage its residents to make the changes required to ensure its young people inherit a thriving, climate-ready, sustainable city. One such initiative is The City of Edinburgh Council's festive waste campaign, which aims to encourage residents to reduce, reuse and recycle their waste over the holiday period. The campaign includes access to resources like the Edinburgh Reuse Map: developed in partnership with Changeworks, it's a fantastic place to help you discover where items can be sourced second-hand or for free, fixed, donated or even upcycled. There's more help over at edinburgh.gov.uk/greenchristmas, where residents can find information ranging from Christmas tree uplifts to plastic-free shops across the city.

Natasha Callan, who lives in Stockbridge, recently took up this festive waste challenge. She’s a fan of hiking, travelling and going on long walks with her dog. On her social media channel, you’ll find plenty of whimsical photos from her travels around Edinburgh and beyond. But Natasha also aims to promote sustainability and encourage people to be more mindful of consumerism and buying habits.

To help her be more sustainable this Christmas, Natasha used the Edinburgh Reuse Map. Specifically, she used it to borrow a bike to do a bit of sustainable, carbon-free shopping at the weekend. We chatted to Natasha about the experience.

The Skinny: How conscious are you of waste at this time of year?

Natasha Callan: Super conscious. I always make sure I use reusable bags or recyclable wrapping paper. I also try to buy experiences and time capsule pieces rather than seasonal items that will date badly.

What did you want to borrow using the Edinburgh Reuse Map?

I borrowed a bike from Leith Cycle Co, which is just on Leith Walk (no. 276), so not far from my house at all.

Leith Cycle Co; image: Natasha Callan

Why did you want to borrow a bike?

I always prefer to travel around Edinburgh by foot or bike, and cycling allows you to not only get to your destinations quicker, but you get to see the city of Edinburgh in all its glory. So my plan was to use the bike to cycle around town to find some second-hand gifts.

How easy was it to use the Reuse Map to find a place where you could borrow a bike?

So easy! I literally opened up the website, typed 'bikes' and clicked that I wanted 'to borrow' and the stores in Edinburgh that lend out bikes popped up with their name, address and contact number.

Where did you go shopping?

I ended up cycling to a gorgeous secondhand book shop called Armchair Books (72-74 West Port) and bought a third edition of Oliver Twist for a book-loving friend.

Armchair Books; image: Natasha Callan

What was the best part of using your borrowed bike to do your Christmas shopping?

Seeing the city of Edinburgh in all its glory and enjoying the rare beaming sunshine.

Were there any downsides to shopping by bike?

I couldn't buy anything too bulky due to cycling, so I had to keep the gift small and light.

Can you see yourself using the Edinburgh Reuse Map in different ways? If so, how else might you use it?

Yes, absolutely! I would use it to sell some items and to check out some local libraries to borrow some books as I haven't been to a library in so long!

Do you have any other plans to help reduce your Christmas waste this year?

I will definitely be limiting the amount I buy and focusing instead on the quality. I will also be buying friends and family experiences (day trips, events, gigs, etc) as opposed to material gifts or pointless ones – no more bath sets!

To try the Edinburgh Reuse Map yourself, head over to the Edinburgh Reuse Map
And find out more about how you could have a greener Christmas at edinburgh.gov.uk/greenchristmas

Follow Natasha at @dearnatashalou