The tradition of crackers at Christmas goes back to Victorian times, before the days of plastic.
Did you know that in the UK 40 million crackers and their contents are thrown away each year? The novelties inside crackers are largely made of single-use plastic (who needs a plastic moustache?), which will end up in the bin before Boxing Day is out. If you’re lucky they’ll reach the waste incinerators or, if you don’t live in an area that has one, the crackers will end up in landfill – for ever.
The snap can’t be recycled because it is soaked in chemicals which make the bang. Half the time don’t you find the bang doesn’t happen anyway? What about the packaging? Does it have a plastic window? Quite often the box and the crackers are decorated with micro-plastic glitter and foil, all of which are not recyclable, despite any claims made that only recycled plastic or bioplastic has been used in the making.
The hat, made from tissue paper or shiny paper, will also end up in the bin, as the quality of tissue paper is of no value and the shiny one will probably have a thick layer of plastic on it.
Plus, where are the crackers made? China? A pretty big carbon footprint for the miniscule amount of time it takes to pull the cracker and read the joke before ploughing into Christmas lunch.
So about the only thing recyclable is possibly the joke printed on paper!
There are some retailers now selling plastic-free crackers, though they tend to be more expensive and, besides, does that claim include the packaging? Could you have a try at making your own out of empty toilet rolls, decorated brown paper, raffia, coloured twine, a sprig of green from the garden, etc? There are websites with a hundred different corny Christmas jokes to use. Pop in a non-plastic gift, a chocolate, a sweet, something useful, a forfeit, a promise, an encouraging message perhaps.
We know that a growing number of people are cutting down on waste at Christmas, which is fantastic news. Will you join them and crack this unnecessary excess? Even if you could start with just this one aspect and build on that each year – that would be an amazing gift to the planet. The other upside would be that we would lessen the profits in the coffers of the major suppliers – now there’s an incentive!
Plastic Free Axminster wishes you a lovely, contented and, of course, sustainable Christmas!