Recycle for Lewisham

A blog written for residents of Lewisham


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Making Your Christmas Greener Each Year (Pt 1)

Each year Lewisham’s Recycling Team attempt to cajole and persuade its residents to make their Christmas’s a little greener and more environmentally friendly than the previous one. This year will be no different of course and below are some simple ideas to make your Christmas green though not necessarily white.

So at a time of frenzied consumerism, what measures can be taken that are a little kinder to the straining environment? What simple steps can be taken that won’t result in huge amounts of waste being generated needlessly. The following will help guide you through what many consider to be a hectic time of year. Some may save you money, some may save you time, most will probably help save the planet. Buying things that you don’t need is something that George Monbiot discusses in an article from 4 years ago that’s worth a read: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/dec/10/on-12th-day-christmas-present-junk

Part 1 of our Christmas blog takes a look at Christmas trees, food and wrapping paper. Part 2 will focus on presents, recycling and reusing. So what actions can you take to minimise some of the environmental damage over Christmas?

  1. Christmas trees

Most if not all people that celebrate Christmas at home will be getting a tree. If you have an artificial tree that you think will see you through another Christmas, then we’d suggest using that. Why buy a new one if you don’t need to? If you’re buying a real tree, Friends of the Earth say buy a UK grown tree and ‘from a retailer registered with the British Christmas Tree Growers Association. If you want a tree that is certified organic, check to see that it has been approved by the Soil Association’.

christmas-tree-1

Use one of our drop off points for your real Christmas tree

When you’ve finished with your real tree, please make sure it’s recycled at one of our many collection points in our parks. You can also rent a tree as well? If you fancied making a small ornamental tree, this link shows you how:  

  1. Food

Planning what you’ll eat is one of the best things you can do. Jot down the ingredients you will need from each recipe, have a good look in the cupboards, fridge and freezer to discover what you’ve already got, then write a shopping list. By planning you can also build in ideas for making tasty meals from any leftovers, forgotten foods and meals from the freezer.

christmas-dinner

A well planned Christmas dinner will cut down on food waste

If you’re shopping early for Christmas, there’s lots of things that can be frozen in time. For example, if you’ve bought a ham with a Use By Date that says you’ve got a week to eat it, but you won’t even get a start on it by then, freeze it on the day you’ve bought it and defrost it closer to the time that you’ll be eating it. When you’ve defrosted it, you’ll still have a week to eat it!

Buy your Brussels sprouts from a farm shop still on the stalk. They will keep for up to two weeks in a shed or on the patio, saving vital fridge space and cutting down on packaging.

Don’t forget the garden birds. Use the excess cooking fat from the goose or turkey and muesli to make your own fat balls. While the fat is still warm, spoon into muffin cases; add a hanging string or make sure they fit your bird feeder.

Freezing your food in time allows you much more control over your Use By Dates, but make sure you take note of how many days you’ve got left on the dates. For the example above, if you’ve kept the ham in the fridge for 2 days then decided to freeze it, you’ll have 5 days to eat it. The Love Food Hate Waste website also has lots of tips and recipes about food over Christmas: https://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/

Remember, you can ignore the Sell By Date – that’s for the shops only; and you can still eat food after the Best Before Date. It’s only the Use By Date you need to pay attention to. As for Christmas pudding, if you don’t like it, don’t buy it. Also, if you want to look for alternatives to the crackers, what about these reusable ones: http://www.keepthiscracker.com/

  1. Wrapping paper

The easiest option when it comes to wrapping paper is to buy it by the roll from your local shop or supermarket. But is that good for the environment? There are alternatives however. Some people use newspaper with string and ribbon, old maps can also be utilised and bring some added colour, large calendars that may be thrown away could be recycled into this years wrapping paper.

wrapping-paper

There are lots of alternatives to wrapping paper

Gift bags from previous presents could also be reused – these don’t require the use of tape. Shops also sell cotton or flannel gift bags which can be used over and over again. Wrapping paper from a previous Christmas could also be reused again.

A second article will follow next week and look at what to do with that unwanted Christmas jumper and what to do about recycling and reusing.


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A day in the life of the depot compost bin

It took a little embarrassment to give me the inspiration to give our compost heap some rather over due tender loving care last week. It all started when I lifted the lid of our compost bin that we use at work during a recent workshop and saw, together with everyone else, the sorry state it was in.  

The entire heap seemed to have shrunk in all directions creating a space between the bin and the sides of the heap. The top of the heap where you dump new waste in, as well as the sides, had formed a crust of mostly dried out tea bags and paper towels. 

Thankfully I didn’t have to dig too deeply to find some nice compost to show but it was drier than usual and it got me thinking. 

Back in Australia, I’d encourage people to turn over their compost heap and add in a little water/urine mix to ensure that the outer sides wouldn’t dry out from the heat. Here in England, it just didn’t seem necessary… until this summer! We’ve had a great summer this time around with lots of warm sunshine and not a lot of rain.

After all the hard work sorting the compost bin, Kristina has some quality compost to use.

After all the hard work sorting the compost bin, Kristina has some quality compost to use.

Due to the heat, the moisture within the heap had started to evaporate causing the contents of the compost bin to shrink and come away from the sides. As staff put more new scraps in they often didn’t sit on the top in a nice damp mound but fell away to the sides. Instead of retaining it’s moisture, these new additions, now thinly spread, would dry quickly and form a crust rather than break down quickly. It was time to give this normally moist compost heap some overdue TLC! 

Our bin has removable side panels to gain easy access to the contents, so removing 2 of these, I first scraped off the outer dry crust from the top and the sides and kept this separate. I did the same for the next layer in, revealing the good stuff underneath – beautiful earth smelling rich compost.  

At this point I realised how much ready to use compost we had and that we hadn’t utilised this lovely resource to it’s full potential – isn’t that half the reason why we compost? So with just 5 minutes of promotion, bags and bags of this gold were happily carried away by staff to use on their own gardens whilst most of it went onto the garden beds in the depot. 

I kept some back to restore our dried up crust though. So here’s how I revived what I had left of the remaining heap: 

What I had left:

       Crust layer (5% of a bin’s worth)

       Second layer in – quite dry but not crisp and semi broken down (10% of a bin’s worth)

       Moist somewhat broken down materials (20% of a bin’s worth)

       High quality compost (20% of a bin’s worth (45% of good compost was given away)

Taking out half of the high quality compost and putting it aside, I spread out the remaining compost inside the bin, ensuring that it reached the sides of the bin and was level. 

Meanwhile, I filled a tub with the crusty outer layer and poured in a bucket of algae enriched water from our water butt to soak the dry materials. Not only would the water re-hydrate it, but the algae, full of nitrogen, would be great to speed up the breakdown process. Of course, if you need to do the same, tap water will do the job, and better still, pop some urine into the mix! I wasn’t too keen on getting staff members to volunteer their personal nitrogen source to our compost heap though, so rain water was fine by me! 

The finished product ready for distribution on garden beds in the depot and peoples gardens.

The finished product ready for distribution on garden beds in the depot and peoples gardens.

I then mixed all the materials together by simply layering it back into the compost bin making sure that all the different grades were evenly mixed and watered from the soaking tub. Importantly, the upper most layers of soaked crusty materials were covered with a more broken down grade of compost so that they wouldn’t simply dry out again. 

From here, we just go about putting our scraps in as usual. They now fall onto a level surface that’s moist and teeming with life. You should have seen the abundant critters as I was working on the heap – I’m sure they are glad that I’ll leave them alone now!


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Rain, sun and more rain at the Bellingham Festival

This weekend the Recycling team made yet another appearance on the Lewisham festival circuit. The Bellingham Festival was held on Saturday 28th June at Bellingham Green.

Table at the ready!

Table at the ready!


The event was arranged by Phoenix Housing and was a celebration of life in the ward. Local choirs sang, knick knacks were sold and a good time was had by all. But it nearly didn’t happen. At approximately 11am the heavens opened and it looked like the day would be a total wash out. Thankfully, it was only a brief downpour and we were able to get in a good 3 hours of festivities.

But then at 2.45 disaster struck! The rain came and this time it wasn’t alone, it brought some thunder with it too. People tried to brave it but it was relentless and we all got absolutely soaked!

In any case everybody enjoyed the day and we spoke to over 30 people about recycling and composting. So we couldn’t really ask for much more than that. Could we?

Next stop – People’s Day. See you then.


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International Composting Week turns out more Green Thumbs in Lewisham!

What do seaweed, urine, nettles and grass clippings have in common? They are all rich in Nitrogen and are a fabulous food source within your compost. And what do loo rolls, sticks, scrunched paper and dried leaves have in common? They are all high in Carbon and provide the necessary structure and air pockets for your compost.

The finished product

The finished product

Together these types of ingredients provide the ideal environment for millions of micro-organisms and other creatures such as worms, wood lice, fruit fly, snails and beetles to live. They’ll make homes and munch away at your garden and kitchen waste turning it into compost.

A full compost bin ready for the garden

A full compost bin ready for the garden

Here at Lewisham, we’ve just celebrated International Composting Week by running 6 free workshops where nearly 60 people learnt how to set up and maintain a healthy compost at home.  Some had already started composting but needed help to get the best result out of it, however many had never done any composting before attending the course. Regardless of experience everyone who attended were enthused to compost even more…

Leave it in a warm place in the garden

Leave it in a warm place in the garden

“(The course) was informative and encouraging. I got good ideas for tackling my compost without it sounding difficult…”

A 220 litre compost bin

A 220 litre compost bin

 “(The course) was fun, well delivered, and was a nice atmosphere and location… got me in the mood for more gardening!”

Peelings, grass clippings, tea bags etc. can all go into the compost bin

Peelings, grass clippings, tea bags etc. can all go into the compost bin

We hope to run more sessions later in the year, so if you are interested in coming along, keep an eye out on the Council’s website or in Lewisham Life for advertised sessions.

http://www.lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/wasterecycle/Garden-waste/Pages/Composting.aspx


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Forget Turtle Doves and Leaping Lords – here’s our 12 tips of Christmas……

After three, 1, 2, 3

On the first day of Christmas my true love……..

OK, there’s no need to break into song, but as an alternative to this festive ditty, the Recycle for Lewisham team have done away with swimming swans and piping pipers and are offering our very own 12 tips of Christmas.  These are just a few things that you as a Lewisham resident can do to make your yuletide that bit greener and better for the environment.  So let’s get started…

1. Make sure you have access to a recycling bin over Christmas so that you’re able to recycle all your cans, paper, glass bottles and jars, plastic bottles, mixed plastics and beverage cartons. You can order a new recycling bin by clicking on the following link: http://goo.gl/UFGktq

Please make good use of your recycling bins during the Christmas period.

Please make good use of your recycling bins during the Christmas period.

2. Transform your Christmas leftovers with these inventive roast turkey sandwich ideas.

Loving food and hating waste. Make good use of that turkey.

Loving food and hating waste. Make good use of that turkey.

Turkey, Cream Cheese and Bacon Sandwich – Smoky bacon and chive cream cheese make this a perfect Boxing Day breakfast or if you are feeling a little healthier, how about making a Turkey, Watercress and Apple Sandwich – Thinly sliced apples lend a crisp sweetness to this tasty treat.

3. Once the presents have been opened, turkey eaten and the Christmas tree is looking a bit bare, remember it can have a new lease of life by taking it to one of 12 Christmas tree drop off points at local parks around the borough where it will be turned into mulch: http://goo.gl/wFk3LE

Please make use of the collection points to recycle your Christmas tree.

Please make use of the collection points to recycle your Christmas tree.

4. Why buy all that expensive wrapping paper when newspaper and magazines will do just the same? Why not add some string and ribbons and a home-made tag as well and be more creative this Christmas.

These are wrapped in newspaper with the addition of some ribbon and nice tags - simple.

These are wrapped in newspaper with the addition of some ribbon and nice tags – simple.

5. Has someone just given you a beautifully wrapped present, with lovely paper and ribbons? Unwrap it carefully and save the paper and decorations to use later!

Wrapping paper and ribbon can be used again.

Wrapping paper and ribbon can be used again.

6. Do you need to make space for all of the new DVDs, CDs and books that you will be receiving this Christmas? Why not donate your old ones to your local charity shop, or if they are a classic titles you can make a bit of cash by selling them at car boot sales or online using sites such as Amazon and Play.com

Sell or giveaway old books and CD's that you no longer want.

Sell or giveaway old books and CD’s that you no longer want.

7. Did you get a Christmas jumper or item of clothing that you can’t see yourself wearing? Not to worry, these can be reused through a charity shop or deposited at one of the many textile banks across the borough:  See locations here:  http://goo.gl/i38qmY

Our textiles banks will take all manner of clean clothes.

Our textile banks will take all manner of clean clothes.

8. Tired of trying to eat up all those left over roasted vegetables after Christmas? Turn it into a delicious soup and freeze it for later – see the link below but remember, you can use all sorts of roasted veg for this! http://england.lovefoodhatewaste.com/recipes/roasted-sweet-potato-soup-paprika

Use up all those vegetables by making some lovely soup.

Use up all those vegetables by making some lovely soup.

9. Plan on having cheese platters out at your Christmas parties? Always place out less than what you think is needed and keep the rest in the fridge – you can always top up the plate if needed later. If you’ve got too much left over, you can even freeze cheese either as a whole block or grated… it’s up to you!

Don't eat all your cheese in one go. Store it and use it later.

Don’t eat all your cheese in one go. Store it and use it later.

10. Christmas is the perfect time for getting that compost bin. With all the food preparation that will happening, you’ll need somewhere to deposit all those peelings from the fruit and vegetables.  It could be the start of your New Years resolution to start being greener. The compost bins are free as well: http://goo.gl/ub4Wc6

Mr Compost says 'Come along and learn how to make some good quality compost for your garden.'

Mr Compost says ‘Why not get a compost bin this Christmas and new year and start composting.’

11. Some Christmas cards are too nice to throw away, so why don’t you turn them into gift tags to use the following Christmas. It takes just minutes to do, and with a bit of care they can come out looking every bit as nice as ones you can buy in the shops.

Get those scissors out and start chopping up those cards - in the New Year of course.

Get those scissors out and start chopping up those cards – in the New Year of course.

12. Buy rechargeable batteries to accompany your electronic gifts, and consider giving a battery charger as well. Rechargeable batteries reduce the amount of potentially harmful materials thrown away, and can save money in the long run. Broken small appliances can be taken to one of our WEEE banks  http://goo.gl/73tm3k  or our Reuse and Recycling Centre:  http://goo.gl/n6NbrO

Batteries can be recycled in libraries and supermarkets across the borough.

Batteries can be recycled in libraries and supermarkets across the borough.


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Its official- Frendsbury Gardens is great! Local Garden receives a Community Green Flag Award

Last Saturday was a day to remember for Frendsbury Gardens as all the hard work by local residents done over the last few years paid off as the garden was awarded a community garden Green Flag award.  The community gardens located on Frendsbury Road in Brockley was once a derelict area of land which suffered from fly tipping and over grown vegetation.  Thanks to funding from the Big Lottery Fund, Lewisham Council, Family Mosaic Housing and the South London and Maudsley Trust, the site has been transformed and is a hub for community activities such as story telling, creative workshops, bug clubs and food growing.

Natures Gym volunteers digging out the pond in 2011.

Natures Gym volunteers digging out the pond in 2011.

Green/Community Green Flag Awards are a national scheme, given to recognise the best green spaces.  Lewisham has been awarded a total of 14 Green Flag Awards and 4 Community Green Flag Awards.  Other sites in the borough to have received a Green Flag Awards include Cornmill Gardens, Sydenham Wells Park and Telegraph Hill Park.

The view of the gardens from the front.

Frendsbury Gardens as it is today.

Saturdays event was a well attended fun event with arts and craft, story telling and cooking! Cllr Wise and Cllr Millbank came along to congratulate the hard work of the steering group and its volunteers and the celebrations climaxed with the raising of the flag by the Mayor of Lewisham- Sir Steve Bullock.

Chefs from Marmalade Mondays @ the Hill Station prepare food.

Chefs from Marmalade Mondays @ the Hill Station cooked up a feast from veg picked by the children..


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Recycle Week 2013

This week is National Recycle Week 2013 and the recycling team at Lewisham Council have been out and about in the borough promoting recycling and composting to residents.

Dave Brinson talks to one of the many shoppers that came to visit us throughout the day.

Dave Brinson talks to one of the many shoppers that came to visit us throughout the day.

On Wednesday 19th the team went to the shopping centre in Lewisham where we had a small stand and throughout the day spoke to many residents and shoppers giving advice and information on all manner of environmental issues. Many people just wanted advice and reassurance about what to recycle. Others were asking about the new Service Standards that we are currently introdcing.

We also took requests for compost bins, recycling bins and gave out bin stickers, leaflets and spaghetti measures and freezing clips to encourage more people to Love Food Hate Waste.

Visit us at our newly refurbished trailer on Friday 21st June.

Visit us at our newly refurbished trailer on Friday 21st June.

On Friday 21st, the team are heading to Sainsbury’s in New Cross Gate where we are taking our newly refurbished trailer and will again be talking to shoppers and residents and giving information as well as a few freebies to those that come and visit us.