Useful Hacks for a Zero Waste Christmas

  Christmas dinner table setting - CDA

In the UK, we produce around 31 million tonnes of waste a year. Around Christmas, the amount of waste produced increases by around 30% with 3 million tonnes of extra waste. Everyone up and down the country is encouraged to buy, buy, buy at Christmas. Whether this is food, presents, decorations – like the turkey that’s way too big for your oven, or buying unnecessary toys because all the kids have them these days – our consumption levels go through the roof.

Now, this isn’t to attack the festive period, and we wouldn’t want to feed into any ‘war on Christmas’ fantasies, it is the season to be jolly after all. But, does it have to be so wasteful and polluting?

Christmas is an intensely special time of year, and is one that offers us consistency, warmth and precious family moments in our hyper-turbulent times. Talking about changing our approach to Christmas can ruffle feathers, but lots of people are increasingly more interested in going zero-waste, and we’re going to offer you some hacks to reduce your waste or go completely waste-free after the holiday season.

What is Meant by Zero Waste?

Environmentalist thought and movements have been surging in variety and popularity over the past few decades. One strain of environmentalism has been the zero-waste movement. At the moment, Western society is built for convenience, not sustainability.

Take single-use plastics for example, you’ll use them for perhaps just a few moments, yet that straw, that coffee cup lid, that plastic fork, it will be on this planet for a thousand years. And yet we continue to make and use billions of these items.

The zero waste movement is as it sounds. It’s a commitment to absolutely no waste whatsoever. The zero waste lifestyle is not for chancers, it really is a lifestyle that you have to commit to. But just like any time you form a new habit, it simply takes some time and patience for it to become second nature.

Some people will just commit to a zero waste kitchen, sticking to a mainly plant-based diet or consciously shopping at places that don’t package their items in plastic and so on. There are even specialist zero waste products that have sprung up in the wake of this movement.

What are the 5 R’s of Zero Waste Living?

There are 5 easy to remember commandments that underpin the zero waste lifestyle:

  • Refuse
  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Rot
  • Recycle
So, the first R is to refuse. This means refusing items that are packaged in plastic, that are disposable, that were produced using harmful chemicals and materials. This is a really important step, you need to have the discipline to simply refuse to buy these items and refuse to participate in wasteful consumerism.

Next is to reduce. This is to simply reduce your consumption as a whole. Donate things, buy less, stick to your essentials and simplify your spending.

The next R is reuse (and repair). Most of the disposable items you use can easily be replaced with a reusable alternative. Handkerchiefs instead of tissues for example. Make the effort to repair broken items instead of chucking them out.

The next R is rot and this is a very interesting part of the zero waste lifestyle. This might sound a bit far-fetched, but zero wasters often have worm composting systems or ‘worm bins’. You can keep this in your home too, as it won’t smell. The worms will turn your kitchen waste into an effective fertiliser. This will save you taking the bins out and any need for your waste to be transported.

And finally, recycle. Recycling isn’t exactly new and recycling efforts continue to increase. Make sure you are recycling your items. If you live a committed zero-waste lifestyle, you should in theory have very little to recycle, if at all. But still, similar to reusing, recycling is key.

Christmas Baking - CDA

How Can We Be Eco-Friendly This Christmas?

As you can see, going zero-waste is no walk in the park. There’s a number of ways that we can apply this philosophy and lifestyle to Christmas. The hardest part of zero-waste is definitely just getting started, but you can use these tips to drastically reduce your waste this Christmas and then who knows? It could be the start of a brand-new lifestyle for you.

In the Kitchen

So, how can you reduce your kitchen waste this Christmas?

Plan your meals – There’s an awful amount of food waste during the festive season, so one thing to do is plan your meals over the holiday period. It’s easy to get caught up in the festive spirit and just buy a bunch of food that you either won’t eat or won’t need. Plan your meals so you know exactly what you need and put everything you buy to use.

Use your own containers – Avoid overpackaged items and take your own containers when doing the food shop. Lots of stores are now happy for customers to do this, or check to see if a zero-plastic or zero-waste store has opened near you. There are more and more independent shops springing up that are based around producing no waste. See if there’s one near you and if you could do some of your Christmas food shopping and more there.

Avoid convenience foods – Go for fresh and loose food instead, buying convenience food means more packaging. It’s probable that loose, fresh food will also be cheaper as you’re likely going to get more meals out of them. There are plenty of treats, dishes and foods you can make from scratch. If you’re time-poor this Christmas, you may not want to do that but it is a fantastic way to be more self-sufficient with food and to have more control over your diet, too.

Be conscious of your food waste – Separate your food waste from your general waste and make sure you compost. If you have some leftover food, try to use reusable storage solutions like jars, beeswax wraps and so on instead of tin foil and clingfilm. Take your food waste on a Boxing Day walk and feed some local ducks.

Food Waste - CDA

Around the House

Opt for energy efficient Christmas lights – What is Christmas without lights? It’s an essential part of Christmas and all the lights give it that special feeling and certainly bring some colour and vibrancy to the darkest time of the year. However, in the US alone, the electricity used for Christmas lights is more than the energy demand of entire countries. Go for some solar-powered and LED christmas lights instead, and use candles around the home.

Make your own wrapping paper – Wrapping paper is a big one at Christmas. 227,000 miles of wrapping paper is chucked out every year in the UK, with Christmas making up a significant portion of that. That’s almost enough to reach to the moon! Make sure the wrapping paper you buy is recyclable or make your own if you can’t find any. You can make it super personalised and it can be a fun thing to do with your family.

Go digital with your Christmas cards – If anyone is offended that your seasons greetings are digital instead of written on some card that will be thrown away, ask yourself why you’re even sending those people your well wishes! We’re joking of course, but you can use it as a teachable moment. Explain the impact that billions of Christmas cards has on our environment each year.

Make your own gift tags – If you receive Christmas cards in the post, don’t throw them away! Keep them and use them as gift tags in the future. Lots will have patterns on them so they can be repurposed into cute little tags or details.

Buy a potted Christmas tree – If you usually buy a real Christmas tree each year, opt for a potted one. This can be a slightly more expensive option in the short term, but if you look after it properly, you’ll be able to use it year after year. It’s estimated that six million trees are cut down each year for the UK at Christmas, creating 250 tonnes of waste once they’ve been used.

Make your own decorations – Use old clothes and things you don’t need anymore to make some inventive Christmas decorations. This plays into the reuse part of the zero waste lifestyle and again, is a fun family thing to do. Be creative and make personal Christmas decorations you can use again each year.

Buy pre-loved, handmade or experience gifts – Children’s toys tend to be massively over packaged and use a lot of material that isn’t recyclable. Explore your local charity shops for unique gifts. You’d be surprised at what you can find at charity stores, and how cheap they are too. You’re repurposing an item, donating to charity and saving money all at once!

Handmade Christmas Gifts - CDA

The zero waste lifestyle is a big commitment, but is always growing in popularity and is becoming easier and easier as more people do it. As more people get involved in zero waste, more hacks are discovered and people start marketing towards this lifestyle. As a society we are moving towards zero or low waste. It’s happening at an extremely sluggish pace and there is so much more to do, but some progress is better than none. See if you can action some of our tips and reduce your carbon footprint and waste this Christmas!

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European Food Names Literally Translated

The names of certain foods from around the world can leave you a little perplexed if you’re not completely sure what it is you’re ordering. But finding out what the names mean can be somewhat off-putting and you might just lose your appetite…

Linguistics is a strange thing. So, we decided to dig a little deeper into some of the names given to traditional foods from different European countries such as France, Denmark and Germany.

We then took those names and literally translated them into English… This is where the fun starts. Some are hilarious, some are disturbing but we’re pretty certain they all taste absolutely delicious! Who doesn’t want to eat a dead grandma or a poo satchel for lunch, right?

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The Breakfast of Champions: What Do World Class Athletes Eat?

How can you be more like the world-class athletes that inspire millions around the world every day? By checking out what they eat for breakfast, of course!

We are not promising that if you start eating these breakfasts that you will suddenly break world records like Caster Sememya or become the greatest footballer alive like Cristiano Ronaldo. But if you want to improve your diet, looking at what world-class athletes eat can be quite informative.

We’ve put together these infographic cards to detail what the breakfast of champions really means…

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods Breakfast - CDA

Tiger Woods completed a return to golf after a very public fall from grace when he won The Masters earlier in 2019. Whether you like him or not, it was an alluring human story of perseverance and there’s absolutely no denying his massive impact on the sport. He forced a generation to sit up and pay attention to what he was doing in a sport many have no interest in whatsoever.

Golf may not be considered that physical, but you still need to be able to maintain a level of strength and performance over many hours over many days.

Woods opts for an egg-white omelette. High in protein, with an optimal amount of carbs, he’s clearly doing something right.

Caster Semenya

Caster Semenya Breakfast - CDA

When the world’s athletic governing body works against you to level the playing field for your opponents, you know you’re a unique athlete. Should Semenya be punished and hamstringed for her natural gifts? The IAAF ruled that she has to take testosterone-reducing medication to give her opponents a fighting chance, but Semenya isn’t taking their ruling lying down. She has recently told the IAAF that they should focus their attention on the dopers in sport instead. Can you blame her?

Semenya’s breakfast is true to her roots and super simple. A bowl of Bogobe. This is a millet-based porridge that’s popular around southern Africa. Extremely low in calories, fat and protein, it’s mostly just carbs that give her the energy she needs to be the best in the world.

Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo Breakfast - CDA

Ronaldo has proven time and time again why he is the all-time greatest football player. The Messi vs Ronaldo debate goes a bit like this: “Messi’s stats though!” “Has he done it in three different leagues though?” With five Ballon D’Ors apiece, it is looking increasingly more impossible to settle the debate.

Really, we have to be thankful that they have played at the same time, constantly pushing each other to always be better and ultimately, they are both very different players with different styles.

How does an elite footballer like Ronaldo fuel up? Taking in 1200kcal to start the day, Ronaldo’s breakfast is high in caffeine, carbs and healthy fats, Ronaldo’s plate consists of meats, cheeses, yoghurt, fruit and a side of avo toast with some coffee to wash it down.

Hafthor Bjornsson

Hafthor Bjornsson Breakfast - CDA

Better known as ‘The Mountain’ for his role in Game of Thrones, Bjornsson is one of the strongest men walking this planet. Strongmen like Bjornsson may not be athletes in the way that we conventionally think of them, but it takes an incredible amount of dedication, patience and focus to keep yourself on the most brutally strict and loathsome eating and exercise regimens an athlete can have.

Sure, they have big appetites anyway but it’s actually still a struggle for them to eat just so much.

Bjornsson consumes more calories for breakfast than any average man or woman should consume in a day.  140 grams of fat, 160 grams of protein, 200 grams of carbs and 2700 calories. That’s double your daily allowance of fat, triple your allowance of protein (for an average sedentary man) and a little bit under your daily allowance of carbs. At some point, we have to ask if Bjornsson is actually even human.

Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali Breakfast - CDA

In 2016, we lost one of the greatest personalities in sports. There will never be another Muhammad Ali and no matter how hard boxers may try to be Ali, they will never come close. As thrilling out of the ring as he was inside, Muhammad Ali changed the game of boxing, faced persecution for his religious beliefs, inspired a generation of black Americans and was even spied on by the NSA and FBI, all whilst being the most viscerally exciting the world had seen.

What did such a man eat for breakfast in his prime? Steak, eggs, toast and orange juice, apparently. Weighing in at 1300 kcal, with 80 grams of fat, 90 grams of protein and 40 grams of carbs, this definitely helped him to stay in the heavyweight category. A breakfast fit for a champion only.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams Breakfast - CDA

A world renowned tennis player, if not one of the most supreme athletes to exist, Serena WIlliams is undoubtedly a name we’ll talk about for many, many years to come. Taking a break from winning Grand Slams to have a baby and then returning to win even more titles, was a moment for women around the world.

Scratch that, Serena was in the early stages of her pregnancy when she won her record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam, in a final against her sister! Talk about a family affair.

Serena’s breakfast consists of oats, fruit and a healthy smoothie. The oats provide sustained energy throughout the day and give her the protein world class athletes need. All the toppings and an accompanying smoothie are vital sources of nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fibre. She’ll also throw in a pastry for good measure, she’s earned it.

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Our Obsession With Meat: A Global Study

Despite a recent increase in vegetarianism and veganism, the demand for red meat seems higher than ever. Many scientists and conservationists continue to campaign against the red meat consumption due to the detrimental effects on the environment production has. Not only is there serious cause for concern from an ecological point of view, but from a health perspective, too – red meat is classified as a Group 2A carcinogen and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that processed red meat is linked to the development of bowel and stomach cancer.

Using data supplied by, we found that the farming of red meat livestock such as cows and sheep is responsible for releasing approximately 221g of carbon dioxide equivalents into the atmosphere for every gram of protein produced. When compared to the likes of poultry at 31.75g, the differences are quite obvious.It was also found that over a metre² of land is required for every gram of protein produced from red meat – a real hair-raising stat when the same amount of protein can be obtained from pulses with just 0.01m² of land.

Meat Consumption is a Global Problem

Over-consumption of red meat is a global problem, with the average amount of meat being eaten each day far outweighing the recommended daily amount for an individual. It may come as no surprise that the wealthier countries are the ones eating the most meat – and as a country gets richer, so does the diet of those that live in it, but how sustainable is this?

Our Obsession With Meat Global Study - CDA

How Red Meat Affects Your Physical Health

Red meat has long been linked to heart disease and other serious health conditions. But perhaps most importantly, it is ranked as a Group 2A carcinogen. Red meat has been linked to various types of cancer including bowel cancer and colorectal cancer.

For what it’s worth, red meat is high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. A 3.5oz steak will have a quarter of your recommended daily amount of Vitamin B3 and nearly 40% of your daily amount of Vitamin B12.

However, there are some profoundly negative effects on your health from red meat. This is particularly when you include processed red meat e.g bacon, sausages, salami, jerky etc. An unprocessed red meat would be something like a lamb shank or a steak.

Processed red meat is as likely to give you cancer as smoking tobacco. Processed meats are a Group 1 carcinogen, which is the most lethal group. This means there is sufficient evidence to suggest that consumption causes cancer. Processed red meats are also heavily linked to heart disease, diabetes and death.

Unprocessed red meats aren’t as prolifically bad for your health. A review of 20 studies that included over 1.2 million people found that whilst the awful health effects of processed red meats are pretty much clear as day, the same effect wasn’t found in unprocessed red meat.

There are issues with how the studies are conducted however and a pattern doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the cause. But there’s enough evidence out there to suggest that we really need to think about how much of it we are eating.

One thing is for sure, and that’s processed red meats should really be avoided. Bacon is a cherished food, but really we need to start ditching it. Let’s reiterate that eating bacon and other processed meats is as likely to cause cancer than smoking tobacco. But people still smoke, so people will still eat bacon. Just make sure you’re eating it in moderation.

The best thing to do with red meat, that isn’t scrapping it altogether, is to adopt the Mediterranean diet approach to red meat. Which is to have unprocessed red meat as a treat, about twice a month. This is a healthy approach to red meat if you really can’t bear the thought of scrapping it altogether.

The Environmental Impact of Red Meat

A lot of noise has been made recently about our meat consumption and how it relates to the environment. With the existence of man-made climate change beyond any form of reasonable doubt, we need to be frank about how our demand for meat is playing into that.

The scientific consensus on climate change being man made is at 97%. That means, of all the scientists whose job it is to look at the effects of climate change, 97% of those people have reached the conclusion it’s man-made. It’s very hard to find that level of consensus in the scientific community, where there is a strong culture of trying to disprove anything anyone says. It’s only when you can find no possible way to disprove it that you agree. This means we have to assess our own human habits.

The problem with meat consumption is that it takes an awful lot of resources to cultivate, especially red meat, and especially beef. Beef produces seven times more carbon dioxide per gram of protein than poultry, for example. Producing 100g of protein of beef emits 105kg of greenhouse gases. 100g of protein from nuts emits 2.4kg.

If you’re trying to be environmentally minded then you can still enjoy red meat. However, for the biggest impact on the environment, you need to go vegan. Eliminating any animal products from your diet drastically reduces your carbon footprint. However, even just going flexitarian can reduce your carbon footprint by nearly 60%.

‘Flexitarianism’ is the name given to a diet that consists mostly of plant based foods, with meat eaten in moderation. People do this by not eating meat every other day, only eating meat at the weekend etc. It’s a really good way to not only reduce your carbon footprint, but to eat healthier!

Lots of people are seriously turned off by veganism. And to be honest, there are some bad vegans out there that are giving it a bad name but by and large, vegans want to reduce their environmental impact, eat healthier, and they feel great compassion for animals. Compassion for animals and health aside, when you actually contextualise the environmental cost of meat, it becomes very hard to ignore.

Consider this. You plan on having a single beef burger for your lunch. Did you know that the amount of greenhouse gas that has been emitted to put that single beef burger on your plate is as much as if you were to drive a petrol car for 200 miles? Nearly 1,700 litres of water has been used to bring that single burger to your plate. That’s more than a month’s worth of daily showers. That’s as much water as you use flushing the toilet for SIX months.

This is why beef should only be eaten as a rare treat, if at all.

If the health effects of eating red meat aren’t enough to get you to reassess how much you’re eating, then at least consider the environmental cost of it. Can we really afford to keep our meat consumption this high? Will there be a world left for our future generations if we do?

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How Much Meat is in Sausages?

In the UK, we all love a sausage, there can be no doubt.

But have you ever wondered what exactly is in that sausage? How much meat is there?

Traditionally, sausages were made from the less desirable cuts of meat as a means of reducing food waste. Over time however, using better quality meat in sausages is something that the general populous have come to expect.

But when it comes to buying a sausage, the quality really does vary. It’s estimated 86% of households buy sausages every month, so it’s only to be expected that there’ll be variations across different brands and price points.

So, are you really getting the banger for your buck that you’d expect?

We’ve put together this really useful infographic to answer that particular question.

Meat Content of Sausages - CDA

You’re more than welcome to use the illustrations for your own content, all we ask is that you link to as the original source.