Green news and views relevant to our community
Author: Holly Ivaldi | Date: 3rd December 2019
Have Yourself A Very Greener Christmas!!
by Theresa Durrant
Its that time of year where planning for the Christmas festivities gets underway, but have you stopped to think about how much waste is produced? For example, we dispose of about 227,000 miles of wrapping paper every year; around 14% of fake Christmas trees go into landfill every year and 300 tonnes of card packaging end up in the bin. Whilst we can incinerate some waste to produce electricity, with a bit of planning we don't need to add to landfill in the way that we do. Making small decisions before Christmas about our purchases can have a massive impact, for the better, on the waste we bin after Christmas.
Here are our top tips to be a little bit greener over Christmas:
1. Choose paper over foil wrapping paper. The laminate that goes into making our Christmas wrapping paper shiny, isn't recyclable and ends up in landfill. If you're not sure, try the scrunch test. If the paper unfolds after scrunching it up, then it is likely to be covered in laminate. Plain paper wrapping paper without glitter, shiny pictures and writing are more friendly for our recycling bins. In addition, choose paper based ribbon over, fabrics or shiny foil for the same reasons.
2. Make good use of your Christmas cards, by upcycling over recycling them. If you remove the pictures carefully using pinking shears, you can turn them into next years present labels. Otherwise if you do need to recycle cards, then remove foil pictures, glittzy extras and recycle just the paper section. You can then either add the glittzy bits to a hobbycraft box for children to use on their school projects, or dispose of them with household waste. Alternatively, you could opt for eco-friendly paper only cards.
3. Don't fake it at Christmas. To avoid filling landfill with fake trees, you could buy a real tree from a sustainable source, such as Forestry England. Local authorities generally run a collection service in the new year, or offer a local service to recycle your real trees into compost: https://www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/info/20000/rubbish_and_recycling/360/christmas_waste_and_recycling_collections. Or better still if you buy trees with their roots, you can always plant it in your garden after Christmas. If you do have to fake it, try to keep using the tree for as long as possible and don't be tempted to upgrade it each year.
4. When it comes to food. Only buy and cook what you really need. So many of us go overboard entertaining friends and family, but only buying what you really need for Christmas, will not only save you pennies, but means you don't have to worry about what to do with the endless cooked left overs. With a bit of careful planning, you don't really need to feed the bin for Christmas. For example did you know that some hard cheeses can be frozen. You can also turn turkey carcasses into scrumptious stock and left over vegetables can be used to make winter warming soups. For ideas on how you can turn leftover into delightful dishes to tempt the tastebuds, take a look at the BBC Recipes guide here: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/christmas-leftovers.
5. Composting raw food. You can also easily compost raw vegetable peelings, paper, tea bags and egg boxes etc. at home. In fact there are probably more items than we realise, that we can compost, as this article demonstrates https://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/what-can-i-compost, which will be great for the garden come summertime.
6. We've all bought those novetly gifts at Christmas, but the truth is, they often end up in landfill. Sevenoaks District council have a number of sites where you can recycle items, such as: glass bottles and jars (with metal caps and lids), books, magazines, cardboard boxes, clothing, textiles, shoes, CDs and DVDs etc. The nearest recycling spots to our village are the A225 layby by the train station, Sainsbury's in Otford or Swanley. To locate other recycling sites visit: https://www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/info/20000/rubbish_and_recycling/165/recycling_sites_for_glass_textiles_and_cardboard. And if you share recycling drop-offs with neighbours and friends, it will cut down on the number of journey's needed.
7. Christmas wreaths are very similar to Christmas trees, in that it is better to go real. Natural materials can either be put out with your garden rubbish to be collected by SDC, or you can put it into your own compost bin. Remember to keep back ribbons and baubles to reuse the following year.
8. Bauble and tinsel unfortunately are usually made of plastics and are therefore not recyclable. However, a number of companies are selling eco-friendly baubles made of wood, that can be decorated yourself, or made from recycled yogurt pots and therefore have very little carbon footprint. You can use dried fruit, such as orange slices and cinnamon sticks, or edible biscuit decorations to create homemade eco-friendly tree decorations, that smell great too.
9. Going plastic free at Christmas is tough challenge, but there are small changes we can make to help reduce wastage. For example; buy a reusable advent calendar over shop brought ones; buy loose fruit and vegetables and of course homemade mince pies are just a few tweaks you can make to reduce plastic coming into the home. You could also opt for mixer drinks that come in glass bottles, rather than plastic. You can even buy plastic free Christmas crackers online, eco-friendly stocking fillers and wooden toys are also making a come back. Another option for friends and family are to make up your own gift boxes, rather than shop brought ones, that come with plastic inserts and cardboard sleeves.
Please feel to share your ideas around going greener at Christmas!