Recycle for Lewisham

A blog written for residents of Lewisham


The Waste Hierachy

You could be forgiven for thinking that Recycling is the most important aspect of waste management. Lot’s of people do. But in actual fact it isn’t.

Like the rest of Europe we use the Waste Hierarchy in order to prioritise and manage our waste (picture below). It is a classification of waste management options in order of their environmental impact and its aim is to extract the maximum practical benefits from products and to generate the minimum amount of waste from them.

Waste-hierarchyAs you can see Recycling is only at Number 4 on the list, which means that there are 3 other options that we should try and do before we even get there.

At the top of the pyramid we have Prevention and that is because the best thing that we can do is to try and prevent waste from occurring in the first place. As individuals we can do this by trying to shop sensibly and think about those supermarket purchases. We must ask ourselves “Is that Buy One Get One Half Price offer really too good to turn down?” or “Will I actually get round to eating that item before it expires?”, just by thinking a little bit more about what we purchase will mean that we not only save money, but we also will be producing less waste.

Next up we have Minimisation, which is often better known as ‘Reduce‘, and it really is that simple. It is just about trying to use less things and if we use less of something we will waste less of it. A great example of this is to start composting food scraps, like vegetable peelings, egg shells and tea bags. Portion control is also key we often cook too much food and end up throwing it away. You could even put a ‘No Junk Mail’ sign on your letterbox to stop those pesky take away menus. How many pizza menus does one house really need?

At Number 3 we have Reuse and this is key to the whole process as this is where we can all have a really big impact on our own waste. It is far better to continue using something that has already been manufactured for a purpose then it is to get something new. A fantastic example of this is reusing super market carrier bags, they are designed to only have one use, but the more we get out of them the better. The next step on from this would be either getting a plastic ‘bag for life’ or by using a cotton shopping bag. Cotton bags are fantastic as they can be used for an indefinite amount of times whereby a ‘bag for life’ may get damaged after 20-30 uses.

Reuse doesn’t just have an impact on our own lives. Textile reuse has a truly global impact. In the first instance we would always say try and give your unwanted clothes to friends or family and it is often the case that hand-me-downs are used by multiple siblings, which is fantastic. But if you don’t have anybody to give that old jumper to or that pair of jeans that no longer fits you, then please give it to a charity shop or put it into a Textile Collection Banks. Unwanted clothes are hugely important and get assessed to find their most suitable destination points.

Textile bank - Sydenham

The best clothes are usually passed on to vintage or retro clothes shops. Even high street fashion takes these items and turns them into their own vintage range. The next grade of clothing generally goes on to be sold in charity shops, these are usually good quality items that do not have that vintage flavor. After that we have good items that may no longer be perfect or in saleable condition and this is where something special happens. It is these items that are often sent to disaster zones, places where peoples homes and possessions may have been destroyed and personally I can’t think of a better destination for them.

It is only after items can no longer be worn that they will be taken away and recycled into something else. Generally old, damaged items are used to make insulation for homes and cars.

So only after we have reduced and reused all of our waste do we finally get to Recycling. The most basic definition of recycling is when you take an old item that no longer has any functional purpose or use and you turn it into something new and useful. And as wonderful as that it, it is still not better than reuse, because with reuse no energy or resources are needed to change the physical properties of the material. In Lewisham we are quite lucky as we are able to recycle a multitude of items in our household recycling bin. These items include paper & cardboard, glass bottles & jars, metal cans & foil, household plastic package, beverage cartons (tetrapaks) and textiles.

By taking all of those items out of our refuse bin we end up sending far less waste away for disposal which in Lewisham’s case is for the 5th stage of the waste hierarchy, energy from waste (incineration). Both energy from waste and the 6th stage disposal (landfill) are the end of the line for an item. Once it has been burnt or put back into the ground there is no way back for it and that resource is essentially lost forever.

So when you think of your consumption try and remember the 3 R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle!


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Living Waters Christian Centre Food Service cooks up a storm with Lewisham

Over the years, Lewisham’s recycling and waste minimisation team have set out to raise awareness of the enormous waste generated by people throwing away food. This includes food that could have been eaten – it may have been forgotten about, not stored correctly, or not used for a number of other reasons.

To help our residents reduce food wastage at home, we’ve put on public educational cooking demonstrations in supermarkets, local street markets and at People’s Day and have ran cooking classes at  a variety of venues around the borough.

Lewisham residents about to enjoy the fruits of their labour. New recipes learnt in the first of Honor Oak Community Centre and Lewisham Councils  Love Food Hate Waste cooking class.

Lewisham residents about to enjoy the fruits of their labour. New recipes learnt in the first of Honor Oak Community Centre and Lewisham Councils Love Food Hate Waste cooking class.

Now we’ve taken it a step further. Lewisham has teamed up with Living Waters Christian Centre Food Service and developed a series of 4 Love Food Hate Waste cooking classes in co-junction with their Food Bank. These classes are intended for those who don’t feel confident with their cooking skills and need to cook to a budget. Though targeted to residents registered for the Food Bank, all Lewisham residents are welcome to come and learn.

Our first class went down like a treat.

“I learnt how to make a meal out of virtually nothing just by adding things that’s already around the fridge or cupboard”

The content of the class was designed to show how by creating a very simple sauce made from just a few basic ingredients you can then sprout many different flavoursome meals from this one foundation. From a simple tomato based sauce we made a curry, courgette boats with spicy sausage and finally smoky mince and rice stuffed peppers. Along the way, we discussed all the ways that you could prevent food waste.

Having achieved a fun and educational session of cooking, and of course eating the results, here’s a few more comments about the course from the participants:

 “I learnt that you can freeze eggs and how to keep herbs fresh for longer!”

 “I don’t like to waste food so finding out how to preserve food that’s on the brink of being perished was helpful” 


Dreaming of a Green Christmas

Recycle for Lewisham have put together some tips and hints on how you can have a great Christmas and be good to the environment. This will of course involve the 3 R’s of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

There are many aspects of green thinking to consider when it comes to Christmas. For example, where to shop, what to buy and the type of Christmas tree to get and from where to get it amongst many others. Most of these decisions will have some impact on the environment.

Having a Green Christmas ©Digitalart

The following list is a bit of a guide and may help with some of those Christmas decisions,

  1. Where possible try to shop locally. If you are shopping for food then Lewisham does have some great markets for fruit and veg, the following link has more details . As well as these there are other markets and farmers markets to consider, more details can be found on the following link Supporting your local shops will also keep your community thriving and put something back into the local economy.
  1. The purchasing of a Christmas tree can leave people wondering what their best options are. Artificial trees may last for years but aren’t recyclable and require manufacturing and use man made materials. Real trees are carbon neutral and can be chipped and composted afterwards so are much better for the environment. Some organisations such as and are involved in supporting good causes and may deliver direct. Recycling points for Christmas trees can be found here
  1. Once you’ve made the decision about your tree, the next thing you might want to think about is decorating it. If you are using fairy light lights, why not consider low energy LED lights? What about using mistletoe, holly with their different coloured berries. Be more creative and consider making your own decorations.
  1. When buying presents, again think about shopping locally if you can. Are the presents that you’re buying good for the environment. Could you buy a wind up radio or wind up mp3 player or similar and can you wrap these in recycled wrapping paper?
  1. Christmas cards can all be recycled, some schools may even take them for a school art projects and they can raise money for some charities if dropped off at the right collections boxes.
  1. Food and drink also plays a large part in the Christmas festivities. This of course generates huge amounts of waste, particularly with paper, cardboard, glass bottles, jars and plastic bottles. Please use your recycling bin to collect all these materials. And don’t forget, we can now also collect mixed plastics, beverage cartons (Tetra Paks), textiles, aerosols and shredded paper. Where food is concerned, don’t forget to check out for lots of interesting ideas on using leftovers and don’t forget to compost all these peelings as well.
  1. Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). Christmas is a time when people receive new electrical appliances and gadgets. If you have an old appliance that still works, why not give it to a charity shop. If the item is broken, why not use one of our WEEE banks to dispose of it or take it to our Reuse and Recycle Centre. See the following link for the locations of our WEEE banks
  1. Finally, if you’re not fully committed to the 3 R’s of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, why not make 2012 the time to start. Your recycling will even generate an income for the Council.

The recycling team at Lewisham Council would also like to say a big thank you to everyone in the borough for supporting all the recycling and environmental services in 2011 and look forward to their support in 2012.

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‘Celebrity’ European Week of Waste Reduction

Whilst it might not be the most glamorous and exciting name for a week that aims to raise awareness about waste, this year we are at least bringing some celebrity to Lewisham High Street.

On the 21st November, Richard Fox, TV chef and beer expert will be giving a demonstration of his cooking skills and showing people recipes that that will help them to reduce food waste within the home. Richard has had his own beer and food show on BBC1 Look North and was a regular chef on BBC 2’s Food Poker. He is the regular beer chef on The Food Channel’s Market Kitchen.

Richard Fox has been talking, demonstrating and presenting at beer events around the world for the last few years. His lively and inspirational style makes him a show favourite. His TV and media work in the field of beer and food have brought critical acclaim.

 His first book, The Food and Beer Cook Book was published by Senate in 2006, and was also launched inAustralia by Marshal Cavendish. Channel 4 then commissioned a three part series based on Richard’s beer and pub exploits with Men Behaving Badly star, Neil Morrissey. He was also co-presenter with Neil Morrissey for an ITV series, which saw the dynamic duo travelling acrossAfrica.

 Richard has appeared on UKTV Food, Saturday Cooks on ITV, The Good Food Show on BBC Radio 4, to name but a few. He is currently touring the country performing cooking demonstrations for the Love Food Hate Waste campaign in theUK. (see youtube clip above).

 As well as Richard on the 21st, we will also have Leigh Adams on the 24thNovember. Leigh has been a chef for 10 years, living in the west midlands he has worked in some of its most prominent pubs and restaurants. As well as food demonstrations Leigh also has an outside catering company which he specialises particularly in what Leigh calls “good wholesome food”.

He enjoys using his cooking skills with a wide range of people and regularly works with disadvantaged groups showing them how to make their food budgets stretch as far as possible.

Leigh’s culinary skills are second to none and he is an advocate of the “love food hate waste campaign” He is passionate about the environment and loves to inspire people to help them come up with ingenious and creative ways of creating gastronomic master pieces from ordinary food.

 There will be a variety of recipes cooked throughout the day. The chefs will talk through how these are made, cooking and storage tips etc while handing out small tasting samples throughout the day. As one recipe is devoured by onlookers, a new recipe will be made up.

 They will demonstrate the ease of how a small number of ingredients and base foods can create different and exciting recipes without too much effort. The idea is to promote the using of the same ingredients to create a variety of recipes rather than to buy a wide range of ingredients that then can all too easily be left forgotten in the fridge. It not only promotes innovative ways to use up what ingredients the householder already has, but will also promote the reduction of waste and the saving of money and time.

 As well as the free samples of lovely cooked food being handed out, there will also be free recipe cards, spaghetti measurers and other freebies at the event.

 The event starts around 10.30am and will go through to 3pm The mobile kitchen will be set up near Lewisham market outside of the main entrance to Lewisham’s Shopping Centre.

 Everyone is welcome.

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Textile Thursday

So it’s the 4th day of climate week and we realised that we had unwittingly released information on Meat free Monday, Telephones on Tuesday and World Water day on Wednesday so we thought the only possible thing we could do was Textile Thursday ….

In the UK, approximately 1.5 – 2 million tonnes of textile waste is generated each year. Of this, 1.2 million tonnes enter the household waste stream and ends up in landfill. Textiles present particular problems at landfill: man-made fibres do not decompose and although woollen garments do eventually decompose they emit methane gases which contribute towards global warming and climate change. Even though we don’t landfill our domestic waste in Lewisham, the majority of the UK does and burning clothes is not an awful lot better than burying them.

So what can the residents of Lewisham do with unwanted textiles? We’ve created a list, starting with the best possible option:

1. Think about why the clothes are unwanted, it’s often best to buy better quality clothes that last longer – I’m no fashion expert but apparently classic items never go out of fashion!?

2. Take unwanted clothes to your local charity shop, it’s best to donate clothes locally and give them a new lease of life.

3. Use the old clothes yourself to create dusters, draft excluders or make a pillow from a t-shirt. You can attend our crafts and draughts event this Saturday to find out how to make your own draught excluders – go to our recycling map and click on the orange suns to find out where the event is.

4. Use the numerous textile banks around the borough, visit our recycling map (look for the purple pins) to find your nearest bank. These clothes are sorted into various grades, with some staying in the UK and others providing an affordable source of clothing to disadvantaged people in the developing world and emerging countries in Eastern Europe.

Please don’t put textiles in your normal refuse or recycling bins, they can’t be recycled at our Materials Recovery Facility and it’s a waste if they’re burnt.

In addition to all of these options we’re currently carrying out a textile collection trial in the Brockley and Telegraph Hill wards, if this is succesful we’ll be looking to expand it to more parts of the borough.

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Climate Week in Lewisham

Next week is Climate Week – a national occasion that offers an annual renewal of our ambition and confidence to combat climate change. It is for everyone wanting to do their bit to protect our planet and create a secure future.

Climate Week will shine a spotlight on the many positive steps already being taken in workplaces and communities across Britain. The power of these real, practical examples – the small improvements and the big innovations – will then inspire millions more people.

Thousands of businesses, charities, schools, councils and others will run events during Climate Week on 21-27 March 2011. They will show what can be achieved, share ideas and encourage thousands more to act during the rest of the year. You can find out more about the campaign, including how to get involved by visiting the Climate Week website.

There are also a number of events happening in Lewisham which you can get involved in … you can visit our own recycle map to see the location of these events – look for the orange suns! or the Climate Week website to find your nearest one.

Crafts and Draughts Event Saturday 26 March 2- 4pm

A FREE event for people of all ages where you can

  • make useful things for your home from recycled materials
  • learn how to make your home warmer
  • get information on how to get involved in a community garden
  • the winner of our Climate Week competition will be announced.

Carbon Compact Launch
Climate Week sees the launch of Lewisham’s Carbon Compact supporting delivery of the borough’s target of a 40% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020.
You can sign up as an individual or an organisation by e-mailing us at

The Climate Week Challenge
Schools, colleges, businesses and organisations across Lewisham can take part in the biggest ever live environmental competition – the Climate Week Challenge, Monday 21 March.

London Schools Earth Hour
Lewisham Schools are taking part in their own ‘Earth Hour’ from 2 – 3pm on Friday 25 March.

Reducing waste, helping the planet
Thursday 24th March 10.30 – 3.30 pm.
Learn how to reduce your carbon emissions by reducing waste. Sainsbury’s car park, Southend Lane.

Composting information stall
Sunday 27th March 1 – 4pm.
Get a free garden compost bin and learn how to make your own compost. Dacres Wood Nature Reserve.

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Do you want to have a “Big Lunch” on your street?

The Big Lunch aims to get as many people across the country to sit down with their neighbours and share lunch together. You can find out more about the idea behind the Big Lunch on their website.

Last year, around 8,000 Big Lunches took place across the UK, with 57 in Lewisham (the most in London). This year’s event is being held on Sunday 5 June. If you’re interested in organising a Big Lunch in your street or other venue, the Council can offer you support.

We will be aiming to work with as many Big Lunches as possible to encourage recycling and waste minimisation especially the idea of “love food hate waste”

An information evening is to be held on Tuesday 5 April in the Civic Suite, Town Hall, Catford, SE6. To register for a place or for any other enquiries please contact the Events Team on, 020 8314 7321 or visit