spotlight on CRACKERS

spotlight on CRACKERS

Tracey Banks

Christmas crackers are almost obligatory around the table at Christmas time, but could this (wasteful) tradition be on its way out?

More than 150 million crackers are pulled each festive season, but they have recently come under the spotlight for the fact that they often contain plastic toys that are thrown away (along with the remains of the pulled cracker) almost immediately afterwards.

Traditions often fool us into abandoning our “good recycling habits” on the big day with a full 99% of people surveyed* said they threw out the plastic gifts inside Christmas crackers, along with the wrapping and ribbons and the cracker pully bit - it all goes straight in the bin and therefore yet more plastic ends up in the ocean or landfill.

Plastic Cracker Tat Protests

Pulling Christmas crackers could be a thing of the past if calls to ban the festive bangers are heeded.

Two near-identical Facebook posts rallying for support of a complete cracker boycott have been shared more than 200,000 times between them. They claim ‘154,000,000 pieces of plastic crap will end up in landfill or our oceans from the UK alone’. According to factchecking website TruthorFiction, the figure originates from a British Airways press release in 2017 which claimed 154million Christmas crackers would be pulled every year nationwide (on average that’s 3 crackers each)

A petition calling for Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, Asda and Waitrose to stop stocking them has been set up by a teenager called Alexander. In it, he writes: ‘I am 13 years old and I love crackers at Christmas. We all have a great time pulling them at the end of lunch and then the table is left with a pile of plastic that nobody actual wants!’

John Lewis and Waitrose are to stop selling Christmas crackers containing plastic toys and puzzles as part of a drive to reduce single-use plastics – but not until 2020. Equally, not in time for this Christmas, Sainsburys says they are working towards removing plastic entirely from their Christmas crackers by next year

Invented to sell more sweets

They were first made in about 1845-1850 by a London sweet maker called Tom Smith. He had seen the French ‘bon bon’ sweets on a visit to Paris in 1840. He came back to London and tried selling sweets like that in England and also included a small motto or riddle in with the sweet. But they didn’t sell very well.

Legend says that one night, while he was sitting in front of his log fire, he became very interested in the sparks and cracks coming from the fire. Suddenly, he thought what a fun idea it would be if his sweets and toys could be opened with a crack when their fancy wrappers were pulled in half.

How to cracker without the waste?

Save yourself the dilemma of what to do with all the plastic and paper waste by going REUSABLE and fill your crackers with thoughtful gifts.

Here are a few of what’s available:

Reusable Card Cracker by Keep This Cracker

No fuss no glue, these crackers come flat-packed, just pop them into shape and fill them with your own special gifts. They go bang like standard crackers but slide open without tearing so you can reuse them for years to come. Simply feed a fresh snap in the slots at both ends. Designed by Bea Thackeray and Made in the UK.


Reusable Fabric Crackers / Christmas Napkins

These reusable Christmas crackers by 2 Green Monkeys on Etsy, cleverly double up as napkins. Simply "pull the cracker" then unroll the napkin ready for Christmas dinner! Also available personalised.

cracker napkins

Monogrammed Reusable Linen Cracker

For that extra special gift this Christmas, these delicately embroidered monogrammed crackers will make the perfect wrapping. Capturing the essence of the festive season, they are reusable and will last year after year.

linen crackers


Scandi Cross Stitch Reusable Christmas Cracker

Use as place settings at the Christmas dinner table, as stylish decorations or for that extra special gift this Christmas, these delicately embroidered crackers will make the perfect wrapping. 

scandi reusable crackers

Cotton Scandi Christmas Cracker Box

Beautiful cotton fabric crackers in co-ordinating scandi style fabrics with an integral structure tied with satin ribbons, set of six. Delivered in a branded kraft box to store them safely and use year after year.

scandi print reusable cracker

or DIY plastic-free crackers

make your own using the middle out of a toilet roll, a bit of tissue paper, and a bit of imagination for a gift.

thoroughly modern grandma diy cracker

or DIY reusable crackers

reusable diy fabric crackers

Ideas for Reusable Fillers

Reusable Fabric Christmas Crown

Handmade crown cracker by Craft Corner Shop on Etsy

reusable christmas crown

not forgetting Reusable Cracker Jokes :)

There's no shortage of material for rubbish cracker jokes...

christmas cracker joke

unpckd recommends

Reusable Crackers x 6 (with 12 Replacement Snaps)

Reusable Cracker Kit (6 Crackers, 6 Friendly Travel Soap Fillers, 12 Replacement Snaps)

Single Reusable Cracker (1 Friendly Soap in Tin Filler)


*Business Waste works on behalf of some local councils and has 15,000 partner firms across the U.K. It survey canvassed 1,100 families about their Christmas habits

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