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5 Ways to Shop Smart + Sustainably this Festive Season

This Festive season, show up for yourself, your loved ones and the planet by purchasing with purpose and intent. A startling study featured in Your Money reports that Brits spend more than £2 billion annually on unwanted holiday gifts, most of which end up in the bin... 

In these unprecedented times, everything we can do to be more thoughtful will steer us in the direction of many merry and bright years to come, and voting with your money is the best way to make a change for the future you wish to see. 

Together, let’s make sustainability the spirit of the season, and choose to reduce, reuse, and recycle. 

1. Take your time

Half the fun of shopping lies in the pursuit, but this is how impulse buys happen. Take the opportunity to do your research. When it comes to finding the perfect gift, ease the burden on your nerves (and your wallet!) by shopping in advance and “exploring” companies, brands, and products to give yourself some time to really think them through. 

Let’s take two major shopping categories around the festive season: kids’ toys and personal care. Did you know most of these products are not recyclable via local council recycling? When making decisions between brands, look for environmentally conscious companies who provide a recycling solution and feel good giving a gift designed with an end-of-life plan.

Giving yourself time to shop will also avoid the need for fast shipping and rush deliveries. Some online retailers will package everything in single deliveries if ordered at once, cutting down on the transportation carbon footprint and added packaging.

2. Gift for the long term

We live in an increasingly throwaway society where most of what we consume has a very short lifespan. You can help spread the gift of thoughtfulness, durability, and value by shopping for items that will stand the test of time and that loved ones can use and reuse over and over.

A good rule to follow during your Christmas shopping: buy less and buy well. If it’s an accessible option for you, splurge on that one big gift that you know your loved one will definitely use instead of gifting lots of bits and bobs. This is the perfect time to snag a Zero Waste Box for your eco-conscious friends and family members so they can recycle the unrecyclable all year round! 

3. Experiences are key

Experiential gifts can be a great way of making cherished memories, while saving product and packaging waste. Whether you’re able to get outside or need to be a little more creative, there are lots of options to choose from! Instead of buying friends a bottle of wine, sign them up for a membership to a wine club. 

Get food lovers a cooking class or a dinner voucher and for outdoorsy types, consider adopting a wild species or planting a tree

Culture nerds are sure to appreciate a subscription to a music or media outlet, and anyone missing the gym or studio will love something like Class Pass for an exciting virtual fitness experience.

4. Consider gifting second hand 

More and more people are realising that second hand gifting is a great way of finding unique and exceptional products, while also helping divert products from landfill and save resources.

What’s better than receiving a rare item someone hunted down just for you? Any book lover will be delighted to unwrap the first edition of their favourite novel, and music admirers will be ecstatic to own an original vinyl from their favourite band. Spend some time wandering around a charity shop or the quirky corners of the internet and you just might find a hidden gem for someone special on your list. 

5. Shop small

Reduce your carbon footprint this year by shopping small and shopping local. This way you can strengthen your community while also lowering your carbon footprint. 

Here’s how to get started: think local. Your neighbourhood shops thrive on community support. Look out for vintage finds and crafts where local makers display unique handmade creations. Why not get involved with Small Business Saturday to support  independent businesses? 

Remember, every time you shop small, you help support an entrepreneur or family-owned business in your community.

Shopping small doesn’t always mean shopping in person. Many small local businesses are entirely run through online marketplaces, such as Etsy, but to help reduce the impact of these purchases, keep a Zero Waste Box on hand to recycle delivery packaging materials such as stretch and bubble wrap, packing foam, air cushions, and tape dispensers.

What’s your favourite shopping tip for saving money and the planet? Tell us in the comments!


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  • Hi Elaine,
    All of our plastic is sorted, cleaned, made smaller by being shredded or ground, then melted and reformatted into pellets, flakes, or a powder format. After we ensure the waste is recycled into raw materials, it is sold to manufacturing companies who produce end-products, completing the journey of recycling. These end products may include outdoor furniture and decking, plastic shipping pallets, watering cans, storage containers and bins, tubes for construction applications, flooring tiles, playgrounds and athletic fields, and much more.

    Read more about the process on the ‘How we recycle’ Page.

    Thanks for recycling! – The Zero Waste Box Team

    Zero Waste Box™
  • Hi, we have a crisp and snack packet Terracycle box, I want to let staff know what happens to these once sent back to you, what can these be turned into by recycling? Thanks Elaine

    Elaine Connors
  • Hi Sarah,

    When your Zero Waste Box is full, seal it and return it to TerraCycle by using the UPS pre-paid shipping label that is fixed at the back of the box. All you need to do is call UPS on 0345 787 7877 quoting the tracking number from the shipping label (the number starting with 1Z) or book the collection online with UPS. Our boxes come in three sizes at different price points, check them out on any of the product pages.

    For more questions refer to our ‘Organise the collection of your box’ resource under the ‘Get started’ tab.

    Zero Waste Box™

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