Christmas is said to be the most wonderful time of the year – but it’s certainly the most wasteful. As the big day approaches, Sustinabletopics rounds up some of the most shocking resources and waste statistics of the 2019 festive season.

Sustainabilitytopics shares some resource and waste statistics which could put the UK on Santa’s naughty list – despite actions from businesses, policymakers and consumers alike

The year is coming to a close, and the feeling that the global sustainability conversation is moving more rapidly than ever before, and will never evolve more slowly again, is palpable. Between nations like the UK and New Zealand setting legally-binding net-zero targets, the climate strikes movement sweeping across the globe, and ‘climate emergency’ declarations being made on a near-daily basis, 2019 has been a year of acceleration.

But as Sustainabilitytopics readers – and the public as a whole – prepare to wind down and spend some time cosying up with their friends and families (and the odd mince pie or two), the UK’s waste problem won’t be taking any time off.

Despite calls for the giving of time, experience and charity donations instead of things – and the increased popularity of products such as reusable water bottles, glitter-free wrapping paper and recyclable cards – several studies in recent weeks have suggested that the ghost of Christmas past continues to haunt the UK when it comes to waste.

Here, Sustainabilitytopics rounds up the key challenges which the nation’s Christmas celebrations pose to sustainability progress.



1. Overall, humanity wastes one-third more at Christmas than at any other time.

Source: Phs

2. Brits will spend E2.4bn on fast fashion for the Christmas party season this year. Most items will only be worn once.

Source: Hubbub

3. 47% of British shoppers would buy an environmentally damaging item as a gift, if they thought it was the “perfect” item for their loved one

Source: RajaPack

4. Despite claims that people now value experiences over items, three-quarters of UK adults want to receive physical gifts

Source: RajaPack

5. £ 42m worth of unwanted Christmas presents are land filled annually in the UK

Source: Tombola

6. the UK alone, one billion Christmas cards will be sent this season

Source: Tombola

7. 500 tonnes of Christmas lights are binned in the UK each year

Source: Tombola

8. 30% of Britain’s annual food waste output is generated during the festive period

Source: Unilever

9. Christmas Day alone, UK residents will bin 130 million sprouts, 93 million roast potatoes and 91 million slices of turkey

Source: Warburtons

10. 95% of Christmas jumpers sold by UK retailers contain plastic content

Source: Hubbub

11. Almost one-quarter (23.5%) of Brits always consider the environmental impact of their Christmas choices

Source: Know Your Money

12. But more than one-third (34.1%) say they don’t care at all

Source: Know Your Money

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