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86% of Scots agree we all have a ‘responsibility to cut down on waste at Christmas’

A survey for Zero Waste Scotland has revealed that more than four out of five Scots (86%) agree we all have a responsibility to cut down on waste over Christmas. 

11 Dec 20

The poll, carried out by Survation¹, also found 65% of respondents plan on minimising their waste in comparison with other years, while 55% were concerned about the environmental impacts of buying new items over the festive period. 

With Christmas so often associated with excess and many preparing for an unusual festive period filled with firsts, Zero Waste Scotland has launched its #ChristmasTrimmings campaign to help Scots with practical ideas and tips on small changes to cut their carbon footprint and have a more sustainable season.  

Asking for a second-hand gift is just one of the ways Scots could turn the tables on a wasteful Christmas and keep the joy of the festive season. 

In answer to the question, ‘Would you consider buying a second-hand gift for a friend or family member this year?’, 37% of those surveyed said ‘Yes’, with 48% answering ‘No’. Previous research has indicated four fifths of Scots would be happy to receive a pre-loved gift², so the opportunity is there to ask for second-hand. 

Jenny Fraser, consumer campaigns manager at Zero Waste Scotland, said:

“There are many small steps we can take in the festive period that can cut down on waste and carbon emissions. It is wonderful that such a high percentage of people agree that we need to cut down on waste and that many recognise the environmental implication of buying new.  

“Four fifths of our carbon emissions as a country are linked to the products we consume, through the production, manufacture and transport of materials. We need to reduce this significantly if we are going to address the climate crisis. 

“Buying second hand avoids the emissions associated in creating the equivalent items as new. Whilst almost half of people in Scotland say they wouldn’t consider purchasing a pre-loved gift, there are very good environmental reasons for doing so and previous research shows four out of five Scots would be happy to receive such a gift.”  

Our top #ChristmasTrimmings tips: 

Ask for a second-hand gift 

Research from Zero Waste Scotland shows most Scots would be happy to receive a pre-loved gift – but many would be unlikely to buy one for someone else². Why not turn that around this year by asking gift-givers (and Santa) to shop second-hand – either in person where Scottish Government coronavirus guidance allows or on online auction sites likes Gumtree and eBay?  

Give a gift that keeps on giving 

Subscriptions, donations and sponsorship are a great way to share the love without the ‘stuff’ – and support a good cause. Why not invest in a streaming platform like Netflix for the movie buff in your life, subscribe to a comic or magazine, sponsor an animal, or donate to a charity close to a loved one’s heart? 

Make your own wrapping paper 

With Scots using upwards of 19,000 miles of wrapping paper in previous years, a DIY effort could be a fun way to cut your carbon footprint down to size. Why not use kids’ drawings to wrap gifts, or if you have received a delivery recently jazz up the brown paper it was stuffed with? Just remember to avoid glitter and foil as paper mixed with these can’t be recycled.  

Have a ‘Christmas dinner conference’ 

We all know how hard it can be to please everyone, so with smaller gatherings this year it’s the perfect time to get everyone involved in planning the Christmas shopping list. Whether you’re hosting an extended household (following Scottish Government coronavirus guidance) or just the immediate family, why not start a conversation about what you’ll eat come Christmas? Planning ahead will help you buy only what you need and stop good food going to waste. 

Zero Waste Scotland is encouraging Scots to start a new, sustainable Christmas tradition that keeps the joy of Christmas without the waste, and to share it on social media using the hashtag #ChristmasTrimmings. 

For more information or suggestions on ways to reduce your waste visit zws.scot/christmastrimmings  




Notes For Editors

¹ All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from Survation. Total sample size was 1,118 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 27 and 30 November 2020. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scotland aged 18+. 

Those surveyed were asked:   

• Are you planning to minimise waste over the festive period more so than in previous years? 

• Would you consider buying a second-hand gift for a friend or family member this year? 

• How concerned are you about the environmental impacts of buying new products for the festive period? 

• To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Everyone has a responsibility to cut down on waste over Christmas. 

² Research commissioned by Zero Waste Scotland in 2016 indicated four out of five Scots would be happy to receive a pre-loved gift, but just under two thirds (65%) of those asked said they would be unlikely to buy one for someone else.  

Total sample size was 1002 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken by YouGov Plc between 29th November and 2nd December 2016. The survey was carried out online. The figures were weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+). More information on the Zero Waste Scotland website. 


Why is shopping second hand better for the environment? 

Shopping second-hand is a win-win. It not only keeps goods in circulation (and out of landfill) for longer, it also bypasses a host of emissions generated in the production of new items – like mining the materials to make them, manufacturing them, packaging them, and transporting them to the shop or to our door. 

What’s more, by shopping second-hand consumers can often support their local economy and good causes. 

Zero Waste Scotland operates Revolve – Scotland’s national quality standard for second-hand. There are currently more than 120 Revolve certified stores in Scotland. The Revolve quality kitemark lets shoppers know they are buying from a credible retailer, and all items are quality and safety checked. 

To find your nearest Revolve certified store visit www.revolvereuse.com    


Why is food waste so bad for the environment? 

Wasting food is one of the worst things we can do in terms of climate change. Food waste contributes more to Scotland’s waste carbon impacts than any other waste type, accounting for a quarter (25%) of Scotland’s total waste carbon footprint. What’s more, 61% of Scotland’s food waste comes from households. 

When it ends up in landfill (instead of being disposed of responsibly in the food waste caddy) it emits methane – a planet-harming greenhouse gas. It’s therefore important that we recycle the waste we can’t avoid.  

What’s even better however is to eliminate edible food waste in the first place so that only unavoidable food waste – like fruit peel, tea bags, eggshells and bones from meat and fish – ends up in the food waste caddy. Planning ahead is the best way to do that. 

Many of us may be cooking Christmas dinner for the first time this year, while others may be cooking for a smaller group than usual. With a little bit of planning it’s easy to cook and serve a perfect meal. Love Food Hate Waste Scotland has done all the work for you, with traditional and modern menu choices, shopping lists, recipes and a planner that makes the cook’s job that little bit more relaxed. 

Whether you’re cooking an intimate dinner for two, a family feast for four, or something spectacular for six people, Love Food Haste Waste Scotland on Facebook or Instagram has a food waste free Christmas all wrapped up.  


About Zero Waste Scotland 

Zero Waste Scotland exists to lead Scotland to use products and resources responsibly, focusing on where we can have the greatest impact on climate change.   

Using evidence and insight, our goal is to inform policy, and motivate individuals and businesses to embrace the environmental, economic, and social benefits of a circular economy.   

We are a not-for-profit environmental organisation, funded by the Scottish Government and European Regional Development Fund. 

More information on all Zero Waste Scotland’s programmes can be found at https://www.zerowastescotland.org.uk/. You can also keep up to date with the latest from Zero Waste Scotland via our social media channels - Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn 

The Scottish Government is the Managing Authority for the European Structural Funds 2014-20 Programme. For further information visit our website or follow @scotgovESIF. 


For media enquiries contact:

Harriet Brace, PR Project Manager   

t: 01786 237 342    

m: 07816 226323    

e: harriet.brace@zerowastescotland.org.uk    


Press office contacts are also available on the Zero Waste Scotland website.


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