The carpet is littered with paper and hoards of single-use plastic toys, many of which will have outlived their charm by the New Year.

It seems personal efforts to reduce waste have never been greater with more of us switching to sustainable options like reusable bottles, beeswax food wraps and metal straws.

But while awareness of environmental issues may be at an all-time high, the steady transformation of UK and Irish shoppers into sharing the consumer habits of the US shows no sign of slowing down.

Black Friday this year saw UK shoppers spend more than ever - estimates by Barclaycard show an increase in spending of 16.5% on last year.

Households in Northern Ireland last year threw away 231 tonnes of waste across the festive season, more than any other time of the year, according to Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

The organisation's Live Here Love Here manager, Jodie McAneaney, says despite the figures, she feels more people are trying to be sustainable in their everyday lives.

"We started off calling it the David Attenborough effect but now even with people like Greta Thunberg - particularly this year there is more significant awareness of climate issues.

"With our clean coast programme, we've seen more than double the number of volunteers compared to last year."

"I am a big believe in experiences. We need to move away from buying stuff and go back to spending time with and creating experiences with people."

The organisation runs a scheme where people adopt an area to look after and can clean it up with friends and family.

"That means they are spending time together and do something good for the environment," says Ms McAneaney.

"If you can do without it, do without it. Try to make the most of the items you have and make them last if you can.

"There are always more environmentally friendly options available if you have to buy something," she adds

However, it can be easy to suggest ruling out buying single-use plastics, but for many busy families on a budget these items represent an easier and cheaper option.

"Sometimes more environmentally friendly alternatives can be more expensive but the more demand there is for them the cheaper they will become over time," says McAneaney.

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