Recycle for Lewisham

A blog written for residents of Lewisham


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Making Your Christmas Greener Each Year (Pt 2)

In Part 1 of our Christmas blog we looked at trees, food and wrapping paper. Now for Part 2, looking at  unwanted Christmas jumpers, recycling and reusing, alternative presents and what to do with electrical waste.

  1. That Christmas jumper or unwanted item of clothing

Love Your Clothes estimates that over £300 million was spent on Christmas jumpers in 2015; and if that wasn’t bad enough, they also said that 40% of buyers would only be wearing the jumpers once or twice.

Christmas jumper

Our textiles banks will take all manner of clean clothes.

If you are the lucky/unlucky (delete as you wish) recipient of a Christmas jumper or an item of clothing that cannot be taken back, you might want to look at other options. If you are considering buying a Christmas jumper for someone, you should firstly ask yourself if this person would really wear it? If you don’t think they would, then maybe you should buy something else? If you are reading this on Christmas day or after and have received something that looks like the image above, then there are numerous charity shops and clothing banks https://goo.gl/LnEbFS that can help. You could also try selling items of clothing on EBay or use Freecycle. Or what about this: https://wasteaid.org.uk/happy-christmas-jumper-swap/

  1. Recycling and Reusing

I think we can all agree that Christmas generates more waste than any other time of the year? More food is purchased, more drink and more presents. Much of what we think of as waste generated from this is actually a very useful resource. Cardboard, paper, glass bottles and jars (all clean), tins and cans and plastic bottles (all clean) can all be recycled. The green recycling bins or bins with the green lids accept all of these items. They don’t however accept food or garden waste. If you have a compost bin, please use this for all your fruit and vegetable peelings, tea bags, coffee grounds, egg shells, toilets rolls and even shredded paper. More information on recycling can be found on the Council’s website: https://www.lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/wasterecycle/Pages/What-can-i-put-in-my-recycling-bin.aspx

Please make sure that you put your bin out at the boundary of your property on collection day as well. Remember, collection times will change over the Christmas period due to the bank holidays. The collections will be a day behind for both refuse and recycling. If you have additional recycling, please use a clear sack to contain this.

  1. Presents

This can be a tricky area for those wishing to do something more environmentally friendly this year. Eartheasy.com say ‘look for locally made gifts. Many gifts in today’s marketplace come from halfway around the world, and the impact of transportation contributes significantly to greenhouse emissions and global warming. Local craft fairs and artisan shops are a good source for gifts that come without the added costs of transportation. And gifts made locally often have a story which goes with the gift, since the artisan and the origin of the gift are known.’ And what about choosing gifts made from recycled materials, like the examples here: http://eartheasy.com/give_recycled.htm

christmas-presents

There are also charitable gifts. Oxfam have a huge choice of gifts that benefit others in different parts of the world: http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop/oxfam-unwrapped

All of the above are just a few examples that we have found and many people will have their own ideas. If you do, please share in our comments section below.

  1. Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)

Energy-efficient LED Lighting: If you have lights that are over 10 years old, it will be more efficient to replace them with newer, LED bulbs. This can save you up to 90% or more on electricity and they will last longer than traditional bulbs.

Replace Burnt Out Bulbs: Perfectly good lights are often thrown away when all that is required is a change of a single bulb. It may be worth spending time to find and replace the non-working bulbs or invest in a bulb tester (that can be shared between multiple families).

Utilise Timers: Might be worth considering putting your Christmas lights on timers? If you have lights adorning trees or lights outside, don’t count on remembering to turn them off after a long day. If you plug the lights into a timer, that will remember for you. Light timers can be found at any hardware store.

This time of year will probably see huge increases in consumer electronic waste as old unwanted electrical items often get consigned to the bin or the back of a cupboard. Radios, hairdryers, MP3 players, phones, game consoles and many other electronic goods maybe be looking at being discarded around this time of the year. If you find yourself in the position of not knowing what to do with an old electronic device, click on the following link for more information: https://www.lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/wasterecycle/dispose-of/Pages/small-electricals-mobile-phones.aspx

WEEE ... What happens to your electrical items that go for recycling?

Please recycle your old waste electrical and electronic equipment

Larger items of electronic waste can be taken to our Reuse and Recycle Centre in New Cross, SE14: https://www.lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/wasterecycle/Pages/landmann-way.aspx

Also, try thinking about buying presents that don’t require batteries and using rechargeable batteries if this cannot be avoided.

Christmas decorations: Christmas is a good time to get creative around the home. The internet is full of creative ways you can decorate your house like the You Tube video in part 1 of this article (see previous blog post). One simple idea that you can do is make home made stars by cutting shapes out of unwanted cardboard and decorating with last year’s wrapping paper, or even make them out of plastic bottles. All you need to do is cut out the bottom of your bottle, and cover with spray paint, acrylic paint or glitter glue. Just make sure the rest goes in the recycling bin! Here are some more ideas:

That just leaves us to wish everyone in Lewisham and all readers of this blog an enjoyable Christmas holiday and a happy New Year in 2017.


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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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Qualifications for the refuse and recycling crews

Lewisham’s Refuse and Recycling staff recently trained in waste management qualifying them to a National Vocation Qualification Level 2.

Although some other local authorities have had some of their staff pass to this level, Colin Meyer, the Environment Waste Manager, believes Lewisham is the only council in the South East of England to have their entire department (approximately 150 Drivers and Loaders) to formalise their competence and knowledge and be qualified to this level with the  Waste Management Industry Training and Advisory Board (WAMITAB).

To achieve this qualification the staff needed to complete and pass 10 units of the course both by on-the-job assessments and in addition compile a ‘portfolio of evidence’ to demonstrate that they have the necessary knowledge and competence to meet the standard set in the qualification.

This is a great achievement and we asked a handful of the crew their thoughts about it.

Alan

Alan, a Refuse Lorry Driver of 12 years said “I’ve done lots of courses before but I felt that this course was very encouraging and positive especially for any of the newer people on the job…”

Sid

Sid, also a Driver agreed saying “It makes you see that your own way of working might be different to others in the crew, so the course reminds you to work more strongly as a team and helps you to understand your team better…”

Julian

“The course pulled people together and gave you even more confidence in your team”, Julian, another driver chipped in.

David

David a Loader, said “When I went home with my folder (the ‘portfolio of evidence’) my parents asked me what it was all about, and I felt really proud to tell them that I’d gotten a  qualification. My parents were really proud and gave me a gift to congratulate me… it felt pretty  good… It makes what you’re doing worthwhile. It opens your mind to a different perspective and how you view working in refuse and recycling.”

Jack

Jack, whose been a Loader with Lewisham for about 2 years through an agency gave an interesting insight about the course saying “You learn more about yourself too. I haven’t done any training since I left school and when I took on this job I thought it’d be a lot easier than what it was. I know that many people think it’s an easy job, but you have to learn. But now, with the experience that I’ve had over the 2 years, I find it’s easy and I feel even more proud of what I do because I’ve now done this course. I feel that the qualification does give you more opportunity…Maybe I’ll go for Colin’s job next!”

 To this, Environment Waste Manager Colin responded “Years ago I started doing an agency job and worked up to being a manager over time. So anything is possible, if you want something enough and you work at it, you can achieve it.”

 A lot of people here surprised themselves at how well they could do this course. Some people didn’t think that they were very academic or had the know how to get through the course, but every single person did, so they shouldn’t think of themselves as “just a dustman”, because now they are a highly qualified dustman, not just with experience behind them but also with great potential to achieve more – that’s proven in each and every certificate that was awarded…  They should be proud of it, I’m certainly proud of them.”

One of the happy refuse crews who recently qualified.