Circular Season’s Greetings
It’s that wonderful time of year, when, regardless of cultural background, many families are getting together, eating and drinking more, buying gifts for one another and generally enjoying the festive feeling.
At the same time, thousands of people right across the country are bracing themselves for another hard winter of struggling to afford heating, electricity and even food.
According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Cost of Living Tracker, in 2023, 5.5 million low-income households had to cut down on or skip meals because they couldn’t afford food, four million reported going hungry, and 2.7 million reported having a poor diet because of the cost-of-living crisis. Further to this, 4.5 million households are in arrears with utility companies, with many of these resorting to high interest payday loans to cover the basics.
In addition to the financial strain, this time of year can have a huge negative impact on the environment. From single-use plastic decorations – to lavish meals that often get wasted – even with the best intentions it’s hard to avoid the social pressure to be excessive.
At Carbon Copy, we’re looking at some of the circular ways that people have found to help during this holiday season. For example, projects that reduce surplus food from going to waste; that give pre-loved items a new lease of life; that pay it forward instead of asking you to pay; that enable people to access what they would like as well as what they need, adding a little bit of sparkle in their lives this season.
Surplus to Supper, based at Sunbury Cricket Club, works across much of North Surrey, West and South West London, collecting surplus food from retailers and distributing it to community organisations such as schools, foodbanks and charities. Additionally, the project creates ready-to-eat meals from surplus food, handing out around 3000 a month to those in need.
R:evolve Recycle in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, is a charity helping people access good quality clothing and gifts with little to no money, by operating a points based swap-shop model. Additionally the project runs a clothing bank, which helps people who are referred from foodbanks.
The Reuse Shop, operated by The Bristol Waste Company (part of Bristol City Council) saves hundred of tonnes of furniture, electricals, homeware and other goods from landfill each year and sells them in its shops across Bristol. Every year they collect and resell Christmas items including artificial trees, lights and decorations, giving local people the opportunity to get festive in a cheaper, greener way.
In Islington, The TOY Project saves beautiful toys from landfill, selling them at affordable prices. The shop has recently launched a concession in Selfridges, selling vintage high-end toys as part of the department store’s Project Earth initiative.
Across the UK, communities can come together to enjoy delicious food via Hubbub’s Community Fridges. In over 500 locations across all four nations, Community Fridges are a fantastic way to ensure good quality food is not wasted, and can be enjoyed by anyone who needs it.
In Cardiff, Splo-Down Community Food Group operates a veg-box scheme with a “pay it forward” model. This means those who can afford to donate, do so, and allow those who are struggling to access fresh food. The veg boxes are sourced locally and much of the produce is home-grown.
Helpful initiatives like these exist in virtually every part of the country. Whether you’re looking to do something more affordable or simply save good food or other items from landfill – consider finding your local reuse shop, food surplus project or community fridge. We can all enjoy a festive season that’s just a little more circular where more of the good stuff comes around and goes around.