Christmas can be a beautiful time of year, full of celebrations with family and friends, a time to enjoy good food and company.

For many the festive period also involves the exchanging of gifts, which sadly reveals the dark side of Christmas: over consumption and waste. There are of course greener options, which many of you will have explored, including making your own gifts; gifting preloved items; gifting time or experiences; using ethical and local producers.

But let's get down to the nitty-gritty.

Last year, the average spend on Christmas gifts was £435, which equates to around 310kg of CO2 per person - 20% of the average annual consumable footprint of 1,500kg. Approximately £4 billion is spent on entirely unwanted gifts each year. This is equivalent to £92 per person, and nationally, equivalent to 4.8 million tonnes of CO2 produced from unwanted gifts. Around 80kg of CO2 per person could be saved if unwanted gifts were not bought in the first place. 

The main message from these statistics is to think long and hard about any gifts you give, to ensure they don't equate to unnecessary CO2 emissions. However, unwanted gifts are a reality, so the question of what to do with them remains. Hopefully you wouldn't even consider just throwing them out, so you could regift, or donate to charity shops.

Another idea is our Christmas Present Exchange, which we are running in conjunction with Winton House Centre. This is a completely free service, allowing you to exchange your unwanted gift for something you want or need. Anything left over will be donated to charity.

Drop unwanted gifts (not charity shop goods) at Winton House between 9.30am and 3.30pm every weekday from 3rd - 13th January, collect your token, and then on Saturday 14th January between 9.30am and 12 noon, return to select an exchange gift.

Alternatively, you could donate your token so that someone else in the community can choose a present.

The aim is to reduce waste and provide a route for nice but unneeded gifts to find a new home where they will be more appreciated, this is a project for the community by the community.

Winton House is located at 18 High Street, Petersfield. The Winton House Centre is a registered charity. Please note that organisers might reject unsuitable items.