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Five sustainable Christmas ideas

16.12.20

As Christmas nears ever closer, the usual holiday cheer is being welcomed more than most years with the hope of lifting spirits after a difficult 2020.

But the environmental impact of the season has not been forgotten, making a few small sustainable changes this Christmas can go some way to relieving the pressures of the season.

Over the Christmas period the UK generates 30% more waste than usual.  According to Wildlife and Countryside, around 114,000 tonnes of plastic packaging will be thrown into general waste rather than being recycled in the UK this Christmas.

So, how can you enjoy a sustainable Christmas?

Swap your wrapping paper

Defra has recently estimated that the UK throws 80 square kilometres of wrapping paper in the bin at Christmas – that is enough to wrap up the entire Island of Guernsey.

One of the biggest impacts of wrapping paper is that some of it cannot in fact be recycled. Swap the foil finish, laminated and glittery paper for brown eco-friendly wrap that has already been recycled and is recyclable. You can check this by taking a look at the labels on the wrapping.

The best way to check paper you have received is to do the scrunch test.

· Scrunch the paper into a ball.

· If it scrunches, and stays scrunched, it can probably be recycled.

· If it bounces back, then it cannot.

Donate old electricals – do not throw in the waste

A waste impact of Christmas that can often be forgotten is the disposing of old items that have been replaced by new gifts. This year new games consoles and toys will be gifted leaving the recipients unsure where to throw their old items.

Neither the general waste or recycling bins are the right place to dispose of your old electricals and batteries as they can be a risk to waste workers once they arrive at Material Recycling Facilities.

Take Charge, a recent campaign from the Environmental Services Association found that between April 2019 and March 2020, nearly 260 fires were started by batteries in recycling or waste management facilities in the United Kingdom.

You can instead take old batteries to collection boxes in your local shops, libraries, offices and some community buildings. Electricals can be disposed of at a household waste recycling facility where they will be safely stored and transported for recycling. Councils will also display locations of battery banks on their websites.

Christmas cards

Similar to wrapping paper Christmas cards are difficult to recycle when they have glitter and bows on.

Cards are great to go in your recycling bin, as long as they do not contain glitter as this can harm the recycling process.    

Ensure you remove any glitter or bows when placing your cards in your recycling bin or better yet you can opt for card only material or send an e-card, something which has been gaining popularity in recent years.

Christmas decorations

Wanting to buy new sustainable Christmas decorations but unsure how to make sure they are eco-friendly?

Choosing handmade items made from wood, wool, hemp or recycled glass are the best materials when they need to be disposed of as they are naturally biodegradable. You can also reuse old decorations or buy second hand as well as buying decorations from local shops or online stores to really limit the impact your Christmas has on the environment around you.

If you’re going to throw away old decorations that are still in good condition, think instead of donating to charity shops for re-sale and re-use.

Food waste

Did you know? Around 7 million tonnes of food is thrown away by households in the UK every year and most of it could have been eaten, according to Recycle Now.

It is important to ensure you dispose of your food waste correctly, especially if you have access to a food waste collection service for the recycling of food. If food goes in the general waste and ends up in incinerators for energy recovery or perhaps even in landfill it will rot and cause damage to the environment by producing methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. If food waste incorrectly goes in your main recycling bin it will contaminate materials such as paper and cardboard, ultimately meaning they could be unable to be recycled.

Sustainable Christmas food consumption means not buying more than you need; Recycle Now estimates that the average family spends £700 on food that they waste a year. Some councils provide separate food caddies specifically for food waste so that it can be disposed of at ‘In Vessel Composting’ or ‘Anaerobic Digestion facilities’, these being the most eco-friendly way to dispose of food. If your council does not provide food waste collections, you can always ask why.

J&B can provide a food  waste only collection for businesses via dedicated wheelie bins or in bulk.

If you would like to know more on  recycling your waste this  Christmas, contact J&B Recycling on  01429 241002 or visit: jbrecycling.co.uk

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