A waste-free festive period can be more fun than you think.

This year, a new adaptation of Dr Seuss’s classic tale ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ is in cinemas. It tells the tale of a “disgruntled green creature who despises Christmas”.

One of the lines we have to tread as an organisation committed to reducing Scotland’s climate impact is how to encourage people to reduce their waste without coming across as a miserable killjoy like the Grinch.

We’re determined to prove that you can have a memorable – and an indulgent – festive holiday without having to feel guilty about your impact on the planet.

There’s a growing consensus that we can’t live in a throwaway society without expecting consequences and Christmas is a time of year where that throwaway element of our economy is clearly on display. A lot of people want to be able to have a waste-free Christmas and I hope that Zero Waste Scotland can help them do that this year. One way to indulge yourself is by picking up a treat from a re-use store. Zero Waste Scotland operates the Revolve standard for second-hand shopping.


The Revolve standard is a quality kitemark that lets shoppers know they are buying high-quality goods from a reputable retailer and can expect an excellent customer experience. There are more than 120 certified Revolve stores and hubs that sell unique, pre-loved items such as children’s gifts, bikes, white goods and furniture.

But while the choice is growing, some people are yet to be convinced. A couple of years ago, we polled people to find out their views on second-hand gifts. While four out of five Scots would welcome a second-hand gift, only one in four have ever bought a used item for someone else.


People are certainly happy to receive a used gift but there’s still a reluctance to buy one for someone else. That’s why we’ve under t aken consider able consumer research to find out why people don’t want to buy second hand goods. One reason was not trusting the quality of products – but Revolve stores check the quality of goods and undertake a PAT (portable appliance test) and function test for all electrical items, which come with a 30-day guarantee as a minimum.

As a result, you can be confident that you’ll be getting something that will last. Buying from a Revolve certified store is good for your wallet, good for the planet and often supports good causes.

Home-made items and experience gifts are also a great way of having a guilt-free Christmas. Few of us will turn our noses up at a homemade jam or scarf. But if you can’t make gifts, make memories.

If you want to give your friends and family a gift they will truly remember, why not give them an experience like gig tickets, a meal out, or a relaxing day at a spa.

Finally, no Christmas is complete without Christmas lunch. But whether it’s turkey or nut loaf, we buy too much, cook too much and bin too much at Christmas. Food waste has a huge impact on our climate – while it accounts for only 5% of Scotland’s waste by weight, it is responsible for 22% of the waste carbon impacts.

If you want to reduce your impact on our environment, your plate is a good place to start. Every year, huge volumes of food are wasted in Scotland at Christmas. Estimates suggest that 3.5 million mince pies and 240,000 Christmas puddings go uneaten.

Having a list of what you need per head is a good way of avoiding it. And if you want to know what to do with your leftovers, check out the recipe tips on the Love Food Hate Waste Scotland website. A waste-free Christmas can be just as much fun as a throwaway Christmas. And knowing that you’ve done your bit for the planet while you’re at it will only add a little bit of extra festive cheer.


Iain Gulland is chief executive of Zero Waste Scotland.

The Herald’s Climate for Change initiative supports efforts being made by the Scottish Government with key organisations and campaign partners. Throughout the year we will provide a forum in The Herald newspaper, online at herald.scotland.com and in Business HQ magazine, covering news and significant developments in this increasingly crucial area.

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A non-departmental public body of the Scottish Government oversees environmental regulation, monitors and reports on the state of the environment, raises awareness of environmental issues, and resolves environmental harms



A publicly-funded organisation working towards a society where resources are valued and nothing is wasted. It attempts to influence and enable change by gathering evidence, supporting positive projects and providing technical advice and training.



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