Local Councils in England ask people re-reuse and recycle this festive season

No, not recycling the festive season itself...

by Michael Smith

Households in the county of Kent, the neighbor to my own county, produced 22,000 tonnes of waste over the Christmas and New Year period last year.

Now the Green Party in Kent, as well as Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, have issued the challenge to their respective residents urging them to have a greener and less wasteful festive season.

Dr Hazel Dawe, the party’s chair, said: “We want everyone to re-use packaging, re-heat appropriate foods, redistribute usable goods to charity shops or use them as presents.

‘Reclaim unwanted furniture for secondhand use, rot down all kitchen waste into compost, recycle what cannot be re-used and above all re-educate the whole household about redeeming the maximum benefit from the money we all spend at Christmas time.”

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has urged Londoners to make a concerted effort to recycle this Christmas, saying that "we need to stop thinking of rubbish as 'waste' - it is in fact a resource."

"This is a time when we produce acres of extra waste," the Mayor told the London Waste and Recycling Board.

Last year in the county of Kent only 23 per cent of the waste, 5,000 tonnes, produced in the county last Christmas and New Year was recycled – despite the fact that 80 per cent of household rubbish is recyclable. The rest ended up being sent to landfill.

Nationally, the Institute of Environmental Assessment and Management estimates that this Christmas the country will create three million tonnes of rubbish – enough to fill 400,000 double-decker buses.

Kent County Council is keen for people in the county to have a green Christmas and is launching a new campaign working with the national Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to encourage people to recycle small electrical items at their local recycling center rather than throwing them in their dustbins.

A spokesman said: “Radio adverts will start on Boxing Day in time for the sales. The main message is ‘Bring It, Don’t Bin It’.”

Computers 4 Africa, a charity based in Maidstone, takes people’s unwanted PCs and laptops and sends them to schoolchildren in Africa, which has the lowest ratio of computers to people in the world.

While this is a nice gesture I am sure there are also deserving children in this country that cpuld benefit from having such a PC or laptop given to him or her – especially with a safe operating system – and a free one to boot – installed upon the system, such as Linux Ubunbtu.

The wrapping paper used for the country’s gifts is equal to 50,000 trees, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and is enough to giftwrap the island of Guernsey.

Christmas trees can also be recycled alongside your festive greetings cards. The charity Action for Sustainable Living estimates that around six million Christmas trees are bought each year in the UK, but only 750,000 (12.5 per cent) of them are recycled.

The best idea is when it comes to a real Christmas tree is to buy one that is potted, use it for the festive season and then either plant it in the garden or have it planted in a wood or a park. Obviously, if you have a garden of your own you can plant it there and use it again next year. Beware, however, those things grow.

Dr Dawe had some wise words for this Christmas, which is set against the gloomy backdrop of the credit crunch.

She added: “The eight ‘Rs’ – re-use, re-heat, redistribute, reclaim, rot down, recycle, reeducate and redeem – will help to keep household debts under control at the most challenging time of year.

“By all means, have a happy Christmas and New Year – but remember, now is the season of waste, not just good cheer, and why waste money if a little thought will make it go further?”

Alas, Dr Dawe forgot a couple of “Rs”, namely repurpose and rework. She also omitted the most important one of the “Rs” and that is “reduce”.

As Mayor Johnsaon said, waste is not something to be thrown away, it is a resource, and one for a variety of uses.

We have to come to look at so-called waste and rubbish or refuse in a new light, whether domestic or commercial. Much of it can be made into new of some sort or another and not just by commercial recycling. Craft recycling is a great way to go and much of the refuse that is about could find its way back to people to be used as something else, be this waste leather, waste wood, PET bottles, or whatever else.

If you are looking for recipes suggestions to try with your leftover turkey, stuffing and party food try the Love Food Hate Waste campaign’s website www.lovefoodhatewaste.com.

© M Smith (Veshengro), December 2008