Mrs Green’s zero waste crackers

Filed in Blog by on January 8, 2009 13 Comments
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zero waste christmas crackerI have to hand it to myself; I may complain at not being artistic, but I feel I surpassed myself with the crackers this year.

For the past 6 years I have bought cheap crackers. I hated them for many reasons; not the packaging and waste interestingly enough, as that didn’t concern me much then. It was more the cheap plastic toy made in China / by another child thing that got to me.

However, Christmas is not Christmas for Little Miss Green without her crackers. This year I was able to have a chat with her about how wasteful they were and she understood. After a moment she smiled and said ‘Why don’t we make our own?’

We collected three toilet roll tubes and set to work. The ones I did for her and Mr green were covered in three contrasting sheets of reused tissue paper that I had saved from various packages I’ve had over the years. Yes I tied the ends with foil ribbon, but I have a massive spool of it that will probably last me from now until 2020 and I’m not about to waste it. Inside I wrote them a poem and I rolled it up like a scroll. We discussed that we didn’t need crowns or a present, although I snuck a couple of small wooden decorations into little Miss Green’s offering.

Fortunately, LMG didn’t want the snaps as for the past two years she has burned her fingers on them when pulling the cracker – quite how one does that I don’t know, but she had and she remembered and was delighted to not have to take the risk this year πŸ˜€

Little Miss Green came up with an innovative idea. She actually decorated the toilet roll with butterfly stickers for me; and wrapped the toilet roll up in a cracker shape. It was so meaningful – the idea of the butterfly emerging from the crysallis because I have to admit, I’m always pleased when I reach Christmas and I can begin to look forward to the symbolism of the new year and Spring time.

Presenting them with poems was great because it made us stop and listen before eating our meal. I like that it took away that ‘instant gratification’ idea and gave us a moment to breathe before tucking in. It’s good to remember that while we are stuffing our faces and our bellies, and not being able to manage Christmas without a cracker, there are many people in the world who have nothing……..

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (13)

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  1. Sarah says:

    YAY Well done and they sound lovely. I’m a bit protective of my loo roll inners as I use them for growing carrots and you can never have too many home grown carrots!

  2. Carol says:

    We aren’t too big on the crackers here in the states, thank goodness. However, I had picked some up 3 or 4 years ago when my sister-in-law was visiting from Hong Kong, but kept forgetting about them and putting them away for the next year. We actually used them this Christmas and all of us were disappointed with the pop, the present and the tissue paper crown. Luckily, it was mostly paper and we we able to recycle it, but the itty-bitty toys, all plastic went into the trash. Much like birthday goody bags, I think these should head toward the dustbin of history!

    Sarah, how do you use the TP tubes for growing carrots?

  3. Sarah says:

    Stand them in a seed tray (or other handy thing that will support them a bit) and fill each tube with compost. Sow a couple of carrot seeds at the top of each tube, cover with compost and water. Look after them on a window sill or in the greenhouse.

    When they’ve sprouted – pinch out the weaker seedling, leaving the strongest one to grow on a bit.

    When the roots start to come out of the bottom of the tubes and you have proper carrot leaves – transplant into the garden, complete with tube which will support, protect and then eventually rot away.

    This gives the seeds a head start before going in the ground.

  4. What a cool idea, Sarah! And good job on the crackers, Mrs. Green.

  5. jen says:

    Great job with the crackers! We make ours as well, but your look much fancier.

    We buy the cracking strips from a craft store. We also use TP tubes, and we write down our own trivia or jokes and include scratch and wins. This year we didn’t bother to make crowns, but in the past we have made them of tissue or newsprint. For the little gifts, we have a bunch of stuff we bought ages ago like keychains and little games. People usually play with their trinkets at dinner and then get tired of them, so we put them back in the box and reuse them the next year.

    I like your idea of having a poem inside – maybe we’ll try that next year.

  6. Carol says:

    Thanks for that great planting idea, Sarah. I’ll try that this spring. Though the thought of me hoarding TP tubes will probably give my DH nightmares.

    Jen, I love the idea of reusing the trinkets. That would make it an even more fun tradition. I doubt I’ll be convinced to continue with crackers at our house, though. Just one more thing for me to forget. Haha.

    Great job with the creativity, Mrs. G!

  7. Layla says:

    Great idea on re-using the trinkets, Jen!
    (Lots of parents find that by having toys available for short time & then rotating, or just having certain toys ‘live in the car’ etc. the kids can do with less toys, as there’s always some surprise with the old ones!)
    /Possibly could apply to grown-ups too, hmm..? :))/

    Interesting idea with the carrots.. though my Mom always just seeds them into the garden, if I remember it right.. she uses old yoghurt plastic cups for tomatoes or peppers.. (which is good reuse but still seems a waste to throw away then..) I wonder if the TP rolls would also do for tomatoes or peppers?
    (not really thrilled with carton in garden soil though, as it doesn’t really say how the carton’s been treated..with what chemicals..)

    Good idea with the homemade crackers! I’ve never witnessed them live before, just read about in a Victoria Holt novel! (& wished I could witness someday!:) Now I almost feel I did! /& the poems sound much more lovely than plastic horrors from China or candies to ruin teeth or such! :)/
    (not sure how unstickable & reusable those pretty stickers are..? πŸ˜‰ maybe could be reused as gift wrapping or wall decoration?)

  8. Kris says:

    I’ve bought pretty cracker cardboard and snaps kits from Sainsburys sale, and am looking forward to sourcing little gifts throughout the year. I did pause at the thought discussed before Christmas of doing away with crackers but have concluded that no, my inner child does rather enjoy them… but that I don’t like wasteful rubbish in them so I won’t buy overpriced ones (which funnily enough does include almost all crackers whether it’s plastic nonsense or sterling silver nonsense!) So customising is perfect for me, and they will be stripped down appropriately afterwards for disposal.

    Speaking of roll inners as gardening aids – they are hard at work in my Mum’s garden. She grows onions and leeks using them.

  9. Mrs Green says:

    Sarah, if you fancy writing a guest post on the loo roll inners, give me a shout. I’m posting something up about how I’ve been using them recently too in the garden, so it would go well with this πŸ˜‰

    Layla, I have to admit, the stickers, along with the foil ribbons are complete zero waste no-nos! Ooops.

    Enjoy the cracker making, Kris and do share the contents with us.

    Carol, thanks for sharing your experience with us – I too can’t stand the ‘instant hit’ factor of cheap crackers; they stand for everything I am against!

    A scratch and win or lottery ticket is a fab thing to put in a cracker Jen – just imagine if one was a winner!

  10. Sarah says:

    Mrs G – I have an article you can have if you want it – drop me an email and I’ll send it over to you?

    Don’t think I have any pictures though and won’t have until I start planting in about March.

  11. Jacs says:

    This was our second Christmas with homemade crackers, and I still have to deal with the ridicule and teasing from my hubby πŸ™‚
    I found that toilet roll innners were a bit too stiff for our needs, but found a great alternative.
    We get our wrapping paper in big rolls every second or third year, more economical. There is usually a sheet of rolled up thinnish cardboard in the middle. I can make quite a few cracker-cores out of this by cutting it into squares (same length as a toilet roll). As for the “wrapping”, I try something different each time. Last year I used pages from Christmas advertising brochures – (they are so colourful!) with a dash of gold spraypaint to give them a bit of shine.
    I love the idea of writing poems for everyone – will definately do that this Christmas πŸ™‚

  12. Diz says:

    In a charity shop I found two metal ‘crackers’ that come in 3 pieces – middle and 2 ends. They are painted with Santa scenes and will last for years. I will save little bits and pieces and fill them for next year. I’d love to get more, tho. I have no idea where they came from originally; if they were sold as such, or were full of sweets, or something.

  13. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Jacs, good to see you. Your ideas sound lovely; so creative. I know what you mean about the wrapping paper rolls; they are much more pliable. Using up advertising brochures is great πŸ˜‰

    Hi Diz; those crackers sound fabulous _ I’ve never seen such a thing but what a brilliant idea. If I find any, I’ll let you know!

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