The Rise Of Reverse Advent Calendars

For many, the advent calendar is a beloved festive tradition where each day reveals a new treat leading up to Christmas Day. However, as you may have suspected, this beloved tradition is also a huge source of waste.

According to Business Waste, an estimated 16.5 million advent calendars in the UK alone contain single-use plastics that cannot be recycled and will end up burned or in landfill. The days of simple paper advent calendars with a hidden picture are also a thing of the past – today’s advent calendars are spruced up with plastic-wrapped candies, foil-packaged chocolates and tiny plastic trinkets – all of which comes with an environmental cost. 

From food production to Christmas trees to Christmas cards, the unfortunate reality is that each element of the holiday season is responsible for producing waste. UK packaging company, GWP Group, cites an extra 30% of rubbish produced and discarded during the festive period in comparison to the rest of the year. 

Despite our best efforts, many of the containers and wrappings that come with our treasured calendars are not truly recyclable, and are filled with items that lean more toward over-indulgence and hyper-consumption than meaningful gift giving.

See also: 8 Simple Swaps For Gift Wrap

As individuals grow increasingly aware of and concerned with our collective carbon footprint, creative ideas to make “reverse advent calendars” are emerging. 

What are reverse advent calendars?

Reverse advent calendars are the inverse of the advent calendar, where you start with an empty box and donate something every day leading up to Christmas to be given to charity.

Also known as Kindness calendars or Good Deeds calendars, the focus is on giving rather than receiving, making them a simple but intentional way to support a cause or community group through your own resources.

Source: Passionate Penny Pincher/Pinterest

Pinterest has loads of templates for DIYing your own reverse advent calendar, and pre-made calendars are available from sites like 24 Good Deeds, which lets you donate to 24 organisations or projects around the world. On Etsy, makers and artists are designing their customised templates, as well as reusable and refillable advent calendars.


But when it comes down to making a reverse advent calendar, all you reallly need is an empty basket and the intention to give back. In fact, the list of items can be customised to what you already have in your household. Why not start by putting one thing that you don’t need in the basket each day, and see what you end up with on Christmas Day?

Surely, most of us will end up with full baskets by the time Christmas comes around, and even fuller hearts when they’re donated to charity.

See also: What’s Better: Real or Fake Christmas Trees?