What Christmas really costs us — and how much of it we waste

16 December 2017

9:00 AM

16 December 2017

9:00 AM

Christmas splurge

How much extra do households spend at Christmas?
£500, according to the Bank of England. Over the course of December our spending on food increases by 10%, alcoholic drinks by 20% and books 35%.
£645, according to OnePoll (2016), including £117 spent on a partner’s gift.
£796, according to YouGov (2015), including £159 on food and drink and £596 on gifts.

Festive waste

How much do we throw away over the Christmas period?
— 1 billion Christmas cards.
— 83 sq km of wrapping paper (enough to plaster the whole of Brighton and Hove with festive greetings).
— 125,000 tonnes plastic packaging.
— Six million Christmas trees (as many as there are trees in Epping Forest and all London’s parks put together).
— 4200 tonnes of aluminium foil, enough to manufacture 14 Boeing 747s.
Source: Envirowaste

Slipping behind

Some things which were supposed to happen in 2017:
— Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. In 2007 Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF, said that in 2017 we would be able to cook our Christmas turkeys from electricity generated by the plant. Anyone relying on his promise will be having cold turkey. The latest estimate for completion is 2027.
— Universal Credit. When introduced in 2013, it was intended that the roll-out would be complete by 2017. That has slipped back to 2022, and is in some doubt altogether.
— Electrification of the Gospel Oak to Barking line. Due to be completed in 2017 as part of a Department for Transport scheme announced in 2012. Won’t now be open until spring 2018.

2018’s significance

2018 will be:
— The Year of the Dog (Chinese astrology)
— European Year of Cultural Heritage (EU)
— Year of Engineering (UK)
— Year of Young People (Scotland)
— Year of Climate Action (Singapore)
— Year of Unity (Indonesian Catholic Church)
— International year of the Reef (International Coral Reef Initiative)
— Year of Mathematical Biology (European Mathematical Society)
— Year of Lifelong Learning (Adult Learning)

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