Using single-use plastics in the countdown to Christmas can be a nightmare. It is likely that millions of children and adults will open the first window on their advent calendars without a second thought about the mountain of waste they contribute. North Carolinas are assumed to do the same.

According to, there are approximately 16.5 million advent calendars this year that contain single-use plastics that cannot be recycled and will either end up in landfills or burned. In’s estimation, well-meaning attempts to recycle them will lead to contamination of genuinely recyclable waste, worsening the situation.

We’re once again stealing Christmas,’ said Mark Hall, CEO of “We’re the guys who are taking this one little bit of joy and making you feel guilty about it.” It’s just cardboard and chocolate. What’s the problem? It’s not just cardboard and chocolate, and there is a problem, says

With 16 and a half million advent calendars out there – more than enough laid end-to-end to stretch from London to the North Pole – that’s an awful lot of used calendars going into the bin once the Festive Season ends.

Long gone are the days when kids would open the window on their card-backed advent calendar to see the picture hidden behind. “We’re a society based on instant gratification – we want MORE,” company spokesperson Mark Hall explains, “That means advent calendars with even better gifts inside. Lovely.”

Now the vast majority have chocolate or some other gift behind the door, and that’s where things have got complicated. “They’ve added plastic and silver foil to the mix,” says Hall, “and because they’re glued together that’s made it expensive to recycle.” It is – he says – a single-use plastic nightmare where it’s difficult to separate the two, meaning it’s more economically viable to either burn them or dump them straight into landfills.

“That time of year is always a nightmare for refuse collectors,” Hall explains. “Shiny Christmas wrapping paper is another reason to reject loads intended for recycling, and the added plastics just make it worse.”

Surely there’s an alternative? Of course, there are alternatives to these mass-produced disposable efforts. Just Google ‘refillable advent calendar’ and you come up with dozens of affordable examples,” says’s Mark Hall. “You fill them up with your own treats – and get this – you don’t throw it in the bin when Christmas is over. Used again and again it becomes a family heirloom – all part of your own Christmas traditions.

And what makes these reusable calendars so unique is that you get so much more than a tiny lump of chocolate for breakfast and what you put in them is up to your own imagination. is at pains to say that we’re not out to suck all the joy out of Christmas. In fact, the exact opposite is true – we want people to dump the damaging convenience items that surround the Festive Season. We want them to use a bit of imagination and make it a proper family occasion. “And if we can do that while protecting the environment, we’re quite happy to take all the Scroogey-Grinchy criticism on the chin and improve this world a better place,” says Hall.


Gallery: Christmas Decor At The White House With A North Carolina Tree

Alexis Zarycki is your average girl with the hopes of leaving an everlasting impact on the world. Follow her on Instagram @official_lexpaige