There are a few different figures around, and there has never a full study on it, but Unilever/WRAP estimate that in 2014, 2 million Christmas dinners were wasted across the United Kingdom: equivalent to 263,000 turkeys; 7.5 million mince pies; 740,000 slices of Christmas pudding; 17.2 million Brussels sprouts; 11.9 million carrots and 11.3 million roast potatoes. Each Christmas dinner host spends an average of £112 on food alone, which amounts to £64 million worth of wasted food each Christmas. The sprouts alone would fill 1,000 wheelie bins, while leftover carrots could reach from London to Munich, end-to-end. And unused gravy would fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool!
Christmas is a time for waste. From wrapping paper to turkeys, from unwanted presents to single-use plastic tat inside crackers.
Christmas is also a time for family: gathering friends and relatives for dinner with plates piled high, presents under the tree, cheesy cracker jokes, mince pies and brandy sauce, arguments over what tv to watch and who took all the teasers out of the celebrations tub.
However, for many people its a really difficult time of year.
This Christmas, we at REfUSE Cafe are opening our doors for a very special Christmas dinner, with all the trimmings, made from rescued surplus food. We expect to have about 120 guests, and we’ll have a festive afternoon of games, songs and presents, bringing together all our cafe family and inviting in anyone who might find themselves lonely, hungry or struggling on Christmas Day. The whole affair will be a family one, with little divide between volunteers and guests, it’ll be “all hands on deck” and we’ve all got something to give at Christmas time!
We’re inviting people we know through the cafe and taking referrals from partner organisations, first, but will be advertising for any further volunteers and guests through social media in December.
How can you help?
Family commitments for dinner time, but able to give one or two hours? We need people to provide lifts to Chester-le-Street for 12pm, and back home at the end at 4pm.
We would love someone to lead us in singing some Christmas carols! Anyone who plays the piano, guitar, or anything else – and anyone else who would like to lead some entertainment, maybe a stand up comedian, magician, balloon artist…!
*Donate Christmas presents!*
We want to go all-out to make sure everyone who joins us on Christmas Day is made to feel warm and fuzzy. We’d love donations of stocking-fillers like hats, scarves, socks, soap sets, notebooks and pens, boxes of chocolates/biscuits… please bring in to the café, if they could be wrapped that would be even more of a bonus – as long as labelled clearly in terms of age and gender suitability! Adult presents only, please – no toys.
*Donate to our tombola *
Throughout the month of December we will be running a Tombola in the cafe – £1 a ticket and instant win if you pick the right number! If you have any lovely things, unopened and unused, that you could contribute to help us raise money for Christmas, please bring them in to the cafe. We also need, for the day itself: wrapping paper, Christmas cards, board games or small table top games, Christmas crackers and table decorations.
*Spread the word*
If you know of anyone who might be lonely or struggling at this time of year, please bear us in mind. Places are limited but will be open to the public for booking from the start of December.