Nearly half of UK adults feel guilty about Christmas waste

A new survey of 2,000 people suggests 41% of UK adults feel guilty about the waste they created this Christmas.

The survey, carried out on behalf of sustainability platform YoungPlanet, found 30% of all UK adults “agreed” they felt guilty from an environmental perspective about the amount of waste they created during Christmas A further 11% of adults “strongly agreed”, taking the total to 41%.

34% of adults “disagreed” or “strongly disagreed”, saying they did not feel at all guilty about their waste during the festive period. 24% were on the fence – neither agreeing or disagreeing.

According to YoungPlanet, the UK produces 30% more waste during the Christmas period –– with an average of £42 million worth of new gifts being directed to landfill.

The survey also suggests younger generations are more likely to feel “eco-guilt”; with 57% of 16-24 year olds “agreeing” that they felt guilty about their household waste this Christmas. This is twice as high (26%) compared to those aged 55+.

Residents of Greater London felt the worst about their Christmas excess, with more than half of all adults (54%) in Greater London feeling guilty about the waste they generate this Christmas. T

he North East, in contrast, recorded the lowest levels of “eco-guilt” with 32% of adults feeling guilty.

We need to take more responsibility when it comes to choosing eco-friendly waste options

To help get people on track for a more sustainable 2023, YoungPlanet is encouraging people across the UK to #SkipTheTip and to avoid throwing unwanted gifts or Christmas clutter into landfill this month.

Instead, adults are being encouraged to embrace the circular economy and re-gift or donate unwanted items in order to reduce the environmental impact that comes with the post-Christmas period.

In 2022, the world reached the alarming milestone of consuming 100 billion tonnes of materials a year, and in the past 6 years, the global economy has consumed 70% more natural resources than what the Earth can safely replenish, according to Circle Economy.

Jason Ash, co-founder of YoungPlanet, who commissioned the survey, comments: “This survey highlights a national understanding that sustainable action needs to be taken to reduce landfill and environmental pressures.

“We need to take more responsibility when it comes to choosing eco-friendly waste options. That’s why we’re asking people to “skip the tip” this year. We hope to encourage people to pass on unwanted items to others through the circular economy – including presents, decorations, and festive clothing – rather than chucking them away.

“With this campaign, we want to kick-start a long-term shift in our relationship with our things – and there’s no better time to do it than right now.

“We all need to break up with our unsustainable habits, amplify awareness of the circular economy, and regularly engage with it to save money and inspire some meaningful action. Second-hand doesn’t need to be second best. Redistributing items is a vital part of creating the sustainable, circular economy that our planet needs.”

By encouraging circular, cashless exchanges between families in the UK, YoungPlanet has already helped over 150,000 parents save £1 million worth of children’s items from landfill.

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