General Celebrations

Gift wrapping

The best option for sustainable gift wrapping is to use re-usable wrappings. At Sustainable Epsom and Ewell events we have demonstrated using Furoshiki - a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth used to wrap gifts (which also has many other uses). You can make your own by upcycling old scarves or fabric and tie in your own way or following the incredible Japanese guidelines as shown here on the Government of Japan, Ministry of the Environment webpage. If using single-use wrapping, make sure it is recyclable, so ensure that it is not foil or plastic coated and has no glitter. Be creative and upcycle packaging paper or the images from old calendars to wrap gifts, tie with re-used fabric ribbons or natural material twine or paper raffia ribbon rather than using plastic tape.


Balloons are really not good for the environment, they are a single use item that can't be recycled and can cause harm to wildlife if they are released outdoors. In addition, there is currently a shortage of helium which is required for the operation of MRI scanners in hospitals so we should avoid the use of helium balloons. If you are looking for ideas for more sustainable decorations you could consider using reusable cloth bunting or paper banners. Paper chains and paper stars can easily be made from old magazines and look great when hung up around a room.


There are now more options for hiring re-usable partyware so that you don't need to buy single-use items. 

Sustainable Epsom & Ewell now have a Party Pack available for hire, please see our Party Pack page for more details!

You can also search for companies that offer party packs near you on the Party Kit Network website. Some school PTAs also hire party kits to raise funds for their school. Contact your local school to see if they have a scheme.


#EatYourPumpkin Campaign

We support the #EatYourPumpkin Campaign.

We can't let 22 million pumpkins go to waste, so make sure that if you buy a pumpkin to carve for Hallowe'en that you eat it afterwards!

There are lots of great recipe ideas on the Hubbub website.

Hallowe'en Costumes

Here's another scary statistic...4 in 10 Hallowe'en costumes are only worn once before they are thrown away, and many of these are made from plastic materials.

This year be creative and use items you already have at home to create a costume or buy one second hand. You can find some great ideas on the Hubbub website.



Consider making decorations from natural materials. This wreath was made from greenery from the garden tied with cotton to a wreath frame made from willow prunings from a local willow tree, decorated with orange peel stars. The willow frame has now been used for several years and all other materials are biodegradable.


Crackers are often filled with cheap plastic gifts so have a go at making your own! You can then fill them with items which are useful for the intended recipient and won't go straight in the bin! You can recycle paper to make the crackers too, the crackers shown in the photo here were made from toilet paper wrappers!

Advent Calendars

It is estimated that 16.5 million advent calendars containing single use plastics were sold in 2019. The calendars contained items such as chocolate, cosmetics, alcohol and plastic toys. Due to the mixed materials used in the calendars many of them are hard to recycle. 

Rather than purchasing a new advent calendar each year perhaps consider a re-usable one? These stockings were made from fabrics left over from another project but you could also string together small envelopes or little bags. Inside the stockings or bags you could include details of an activity to do on each day of advent; decorate the Christmas tree, make Christmas cards, sing Christmas carols...the possibilities are endless and you can tailor the tasks to your family!

Christmas Jumpers

It is estimated that 12 million Christmas jumpers are sold each year despite 65 million sitting in people's wardrobes. The vast majority of Christmas jumpers available are cheaply made, from synthetic materials. It is far better to upcycle an old jumper and add a Christmas design or buy a second hand jumper, rather than buying a new Christmas jumper. Just search online for inspiration, you can find some great ideas here.

Christmas Trees

Around 8 million trees are bought annually in the UK, of those 160,000 are dumped rather than recycled (source: WRAP).

In Epsom and Ewell there is a FREE real Christmas tree recycling service - this saves about 16kg of CO2 compared to trees being landfilled. Just leave out your tree on your collection day.

An artificial tree is composed of PVC or PE plastic. It needs to be used on average for 10 years for its carbon footprint to be less than a real Christmas tree. These cannot be recycled. They can also release volatile VOCs in your home which are toxic.

The Carbon Trust estimates that the carbon footprint of a 2m artificial tree is around 40kg of CO2, double that of a real tree that goes to landfill.

To reduce your carbon footprint and waste here are the top options in order of least impact:

Reindeer Food Containing Glitter

We don't really know when it happened but this has well and truly become a tradition for many families on Christmas Eve.

Sprinkle it on your lawn to help the Reindeers on their way. It's lovely, in theory.

The reality is that reindeers don't like to eat glitter. Glitter is made of millions of pieces of micro plastics and will harm any animals who come into contact with it. It will also get into the water system and damage our oceans wildlife

Let's keep the birds, hedgehogs and squirrels happy this Christmas (Rudolf won't be able to clear every single lawn on his own). Choose wildlife friendly ingredients such as oats, bird seed and dried leaves to make your reindeer food. Think of it as a gift to nature

Some of you will already have a glitter based reindeer food that your children have made and are excited to use. Rather than sprinkling on your lawn, pop it in a dish on your doorstep. That way you can bring it in and dispose of it responsibly once your child is settled.