Category Archives: Waste and Recycling

Eliminating Virgin Plastic Bottles – Top 5 Initiatives to Fight Plastic Pollution Part 1

Plastic Pollution Image by adege CC0

Guest Post by Erika Mastrorosa*

With its toxic impact on humans, animals and environment, plastic pollution is a global emergency we can no longer overlook. In our everyday lives, many of us rely on disposable plastic packaging. Although plastic has been made to last forever, 33% is only used once. Plastic cannot biodegrade, it just breaks into smaller pieces and pollutes the environment, affecting every living being.

 There are traces of plastic chemicals in our blood and tissues and even babies are born pre-polluted. It has been estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Plastic pollutes our food and threatens wildlife and environment, this without considering the enormous cost of plastic use in the consumer goods sector, which amounts to circa $75 billion per year.

There are FIVE things we do to reduce our plastic footprint.

  1. Eliminating virgin plastic bottles
  2. Eliminating plastic packaging for food
  3. Using alternative mixtures in manufacturing
  4. Introducing a deposit return scheme
  5. Choosing reusable cups and bottles

Over the coming weeks we’ll tell you about each one. This week we’ll start with Eliminating virgin plastic bottles.

Eliminating virgin plastic bottles

Single-use plastic packaging is a major issue when it comes to plastic footprint. Many organisations are trying to roll back the effects of plastic pollution by either collecting plastic waste or dispose of it in the proper way. Albeit now necessary, this retroactive intervention should go hand in hand with the effort to avoid the production of any polluting packaging.

 At the beginning of the year, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation together with WRAP have sponsored an initiative to tackle the issue of plastic waste in the UK. They refer to the programme as a ‘holistic initiative’ that will change life-cycle of plastic. In line with the circular economy system the Foundation promotes, their tenet is to make sure that the resources are used over and over again.

Through better design, we can eliminate single use plastics, make plastic packaging 100% recyclable and guarantee that each new product contains at least 30% of recycled plastic.

Recently, Coca-cola has pledged to recycle every bottle by 2030. This sustainable packaging goal– as they have named it – comes after a petition signed by over half a million people. With its  “World Without Waste” vision, Coca-cola has also pledged to invest more resources in educating the public on how and what to recycle. 

Although some might say that it is too little too late, businesses and organisations are trying to provide long-term plans to reduce their plastic footprint and benefit the environment.

Another example of this is Ecover, whose ‘Clean Plastic’ programme is the core of the company. Through a make-use-reuse-recycle policy, Ecover’s mission is to provide a leading example for manufacturers to use more sustainable materials and reuse them as much as possible.

Stay tuned to find out about Eliminating plastic packaging for food!

*Please note that the views are that of the author, not necessarily that of en-form.

How Does The UK Compare To The Rest Of The World For Recycling?

Recycling In Egypt Image by imordaf CC0

Recycling In Egypt Image by imordaf CC0

Guest post by Dean Willshee*

After last year’s disappointing recycling statistics were released, showing that the UK’s recycling rate had actually fallen between the 2014/15 period and the 2015/16 period, it is important to put it into perspective. The period of 2000 to 2017 has been one of significant growth for UK recycling rates. The UK is the 16th in the world in terms of recycling, with a recycling rate of 43.5%.

Comparison with other European countries

The UK has seen one of the largest increases in recycling rates over the period of 2004 to 2014 out of all of the European countries. In 2004, we were recycling 23% of all of our waste and in 2014 this had almost doubled to 44%. The country that saw the biggest increase was Lithunia, which saw its recycling rate increase from 2% in 2004 to 30% in 2014.

The best performing country in Europe and the world as a whole is Germany which, in 2015 recycled 66.1% of its entire waste, a very impressive feat and one that the UK should be aiming for.

Comparison with the rest of the world

The UK comes 16th in terms of world recycling rates, but incredibly, Wales by itself is 3rd, sitting behind only Singapore and Germany. Outside of Europe, the country with the highest recycling rate is Singapore, which recycles 60.6% of its waste. Several major world powers are much further down the list, with the US in 25th place – a recycling rate of 34.6%. Russia, China and India do not appear in the top 25.

The publication of Waste Strategy 2000

This was the UK’s first big push for recycling. The targets set out in WS2000 were bold, but they offered the UK some concrete goals to aspire to. For example, there were aims to be recycling 40% of municipal waste by 2005 (the actual figure for 2005 was 26.7%), 45% by 2010 (the actual figure was 40.2%), 67% by 2015 (actual figure: 43.5%).

The WS2000 was a direct result of EU recycling directives. The 1999 Landfill Directive demanded a reduction in the amount of waste being dumped in landfills from 11.2 million tonnes in 2010 to 7.46 million.

If you split up the UK, the progress that Wales has made is absolutely stunning. By itself, Wales is recycling 62% of its waste and is considering setting a new 80% target. Scotland is slightly higher than the UK, with 44.2%, whereas England’s is 42.4% and Northern Ireland’s is 41.8%. The incredible progress made by Wales is a direct result of the devolved government’s Towards Zero Waste policy in 2010.

The national league table

We might not be on top of the world, but this list shows which local authorities are doing their part to push the UK up the rankings. It shows the top 10 local authorities in the UK for waste recycling in 2015/16. Check where your local authority ranks.

Rank       Local Authority                   Recycling, Reuse and Composting Rates

1               South Oxfordshire District Council           66.6%

2               East Riding of Yorkshire Council                66.1%

3               Rochford District Council                            66%

4               Vale of White Horse District Council         64.8%

5               Surrey Heath Borough Council                  62.1%

6               West Oxfordshire District Council             60.8%

7               Stratford-on-Avon District Council             60.4%

8               Trafford MBC                                                 60.4%

9               Three Rivers District Council                        59.4%

10            Stockport MBC                                               59.4%


As you can see, the UK certainly has room for improvement when it comes to recycling, but the improvement over the last ten to fifteen years is promising. Hopefully, the fall last year is merely an anomaly in a period of growth. Luckily, the rest of the UK has a nearby role model in Wales to look to if we require inspiration.

*Please note that the views are that of the author, not necessarily that of en-form.


Author Bio

Dean Willshee runs Willshee’s Skip Hire, an eco-conscious company based in Burton. The company has a dedicated onsite recycling facility with a zero landfill policy which ensures that as much as possible can be put to new use.


Why Is It More Important Than Ever To Reduce Global Emissions?

Guest post by Christina Woodard*

A conscious effort is needed by everyone to reduce our impact on the environment. Climate change will be one of the most serious issues facing us over the next few decades, with CO2 one of the key contributors. The negative impacts include:

  • coastal erosion
  • flooding
  • loss and change of habitats
  • drought
  • increased ranges of infectious diseases
  • destruction of coral reefs
  • increased extreme weather events

to name a few.

Reducing deforestation, finding efficient and alternative energy sources that are sustainable and placing limits on current emissions are all key to reducing global emissions. There are already several countries leading the way having 100% of electrical generation from renewables with others rapidly following in their footsteps. Improvements in the UK are already underway, with the contribution of coal to electricity generation down to just 9% in 2016. On April 21st 2017, Britain had its first period of 24 hours with no coal fired generation.

Aware of the threats which face us all, 200 parties signed up to the Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015. Unfortunately one country has already pulled out and many are not likely to achieve their pledges. It is also thought that currently only 3 European countries are truly meeting their pledges. Unfortunately, the agreement is non-binding and has no penalties in place for not trying hard enough. The USA ,with 10% of the world’s population but contributing approximately 50% of CO2 emissions, made a decision this month (June 2017) to pull out of the Paris agreement – as they ramped up oil production to 9.1 million barrels a day. Unless these countries can look at the wider picture, it makes it difficult to suggest using or investing in renewable energy sources when there is a cheap energy source available in the form of oil.

2016 was the first time the annual atmospheric carbon levels exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm). This historic event was the globally agreed ‘tipping point’, where, like a glass of red wine spilt on a new white rug, the atmospheric changes would be irreversible. A shocking monthly high of 410 ppm in March 2017 indicates that we are not heading in the right direction.

Global levels for carbon dioxide (CO2) have always naturally fluctuated but the increased level of CO2 caused by humans since the industrial revolution is the main cause of anthropogenic climate change. The 400 ppm levels mentioned above are 25% higher than the levels measured 50 years ago.

Since then, our ever-growing population, with its ever-growing demand for food and energy for homes, vehicles, businesses and cities have resulted in exploitation of our fossil fuels. When coal, oil and natural gas are burned these release high levels of atmospheric carbon. Deforestation by humans for mining, agriculture, ranching, infrastructure and settlements has exacerbated the issue as the earth’s ability to remove carbon dioxide naturally via plant respiration is depleted.

reduce global emissions graph blog jun17








We are already experiencing the effects of climate change. Global atmospheric temperatures and extreme weather events are increasing, climatic and local weather patterns are changing, oceans are warming causing thermal expansion and coastal flooding, frozen water stores are receding or thawing. In permafrost, this is a big problem as trapped methane (a greenhouse gas and big contributor to climate change) is released.

In 2010, Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change agreed that future global warming should be limited to below 2.0 °C relative to the pre-industrial level. This figure was revised to 1.5 °C in the 2015 Paris Agreement but the current trajectory of emissions is not in line with limiting global warming to below 1.5 or even 2 °C. We have already breached the 1°C mark in 2015, and many feel that it would be difficult to maintain a temperature rise below 2.7°C even if the climate pledges were adhered to.

Whilst we can’t reduce the level of atmospheric CO2, in our lifetime at least, we can mitigate the climatic effects by lessening the emissions we each produce. The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) stated in 2014 that “Mitigation is a public good; climate change is a case of the tragedy of the commons. Effective climate change mitigation will not be achieved if each agent (individual, institution or country) acts independently in its own selfish interest”. Clearly, the for need mitigating emissions needs to start with all humans, at an individual level, working collectively with other humans to do the same.

But what are our individual emissions? World bank 2013 data cites the US at 16.4 tons per person per year, and the UK and Tanzania at 7.1 and 0.2 tons per person respectively. Researching your carbon footprint based on your own energy use is the first step towards educating how we as individuals can mitigate against climate change. Examples include:

  • Choose energy that comes from renewable sources for your home and/or business
  • Reduce your water usage
  • Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – Reduce food waste for example, buy less or use scraps as compost rather than sending to landfill sites; reuse packaging whenever you can, recycle plastics in particular as they derive from oil, a carbon source.
  • Increase the energy efficiency in your home and place of work; for example, improving insulation, remote heating, energy efficient bulbs and draft excluders.
  • Change from use of gas for cooking and heating to use of electricity ???? (this is only the case if electricity is produced using renewable sources. If using coal powered energy generation it is not as environmentally friendly as using mains gas in the UK.
  • Increasing afforestation by planting more trees and plants.

This isn’t the usual ‘save the planet’ rhetoric. Our planet has been around for 4.5 billion years and has endured hotter and colder periods than in the present day. What is at stake is life on earth as we know it. To preserve both human life and biodiversity, every human must commit to reducing their own greenhouse gas emissions (and not just 180 small countries/states). The Doomsday Clock is an analogy for the likelihood of human-caused global catastrophe, and was largely represented as nuclear war, however, in 2007 climate change was added (nuclear war or climate change beginning seen as the two biggest threats to humanity). It was reset in January 2017 to 2½ minutes to midnight, due to the rise of nationalism, the Trump Administrations view of climate change in the US, and the current nuclear modernisations. The only other time that it has been closer (2 minutes to midnight) was in 1952 when both the US and the Soviet Union tested thermonuclear weapons.

*Please note that the views are that of the author, not necessarily that of en-form.

Author Bio

Christina Woodard is a highly knowledgeable environmental writer who enjoys writing informative posts on climate change, global worming, rising temperatures, and constantly increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. Apart from sharing the latest information on environmental problems she enjoys reading and traveling.

For more information on all of these issues, the author recommends readers visit Envirodat.

3 Ways To Mitigate The Impact Of Plastic Waste – A Leading Cause of Ocean Contamination and Global Warming

Guest post by Erich Lawson*

Image provided by Author Erich Lawson

Image provided by Author Erich Lawson

Waste management is a major challenge. One of the biggest contributors to ‘waste’ is plastic. A majority of our day to day products are either made from plastic or are packaged with plastic. However, a major consequence of this is, plastic waste has become one of the prime pollutants of our oceans and one of the major causes of global warming as well.

The plastic waste on land is carried to the seas with the help of winds and rains. Given its low density it easily travels from beaches to gyres, which is a type of system of revolving ocean currents. The number of plastic pieces in the oceans is in trillions! The waste plastic can be seen floating on the top of the sea water as well as lying on the sea bed. And, not just the ocean waters, the marine wildlife is equally suffering terribly, thanks to this waste created by mankind.

“every life form ingests plastic particles and even waste plastic products.”

The plastic debris in oceans is ingested by oceanic animals across the food chain. From smallest life forms like zooplanktons to the biggest ones like whales, every life form ingests plastic particles and even waste plastic products. Sea birds’ mistake floating plastic remains for food and feed these particles to their chicks, and hence the chicks frequently starve. Abandoned fishing gears often end up entangled in whales that as a result have to suffer a slow and painful death. You can find limitless stories on the internet today, about how this man-made contaminant is destroying the only planet fit for living in the universe.

Plastic is also one of the primary causes for global warming. It takes a lot of energy to produce packaging plastics as their core ingredient is made from non-renewable resources. The use of plastic releases tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere every year.

Appropriate awareness and action, even at small levels can bring about a sea change over a period of time.

We can mitigate the impacts of plastic waste by undertaking the following measures:

  • Banning and Cleaning – Coast cleaning programs which are already underway need to be transformed to become more inclusive and rewarding to yield maximum outcomes. Strict and effective measures should be taken to ban plastic and replace it with green products.
  • Reduce – We can reduce the demand for plastic in any form, by opting for eco-friendly options. This will eventually help curtail its production. This can gradually make a huge difference to the amount of plastic that is introduced in the ecosystem.
  • Recycle and Reuse – Most plastic products are suitable for recycling and reusing. This can minimize the adverse environmental impacts of that plastic product. Also, even though our intent for recycling plastic has strengthened over the years, the processes undertaken has many deficiencies. Hence, the overall quantity of recycling has been poor. It can be overhauled by improving awareness, systems for identification and ease of access to recycling units in public spaces.

Thus, let’s not abuse the power we have been given by nature; that of being the most intelligent creatures in the food chain. We can all make a huge impact with even the smallest of alterations when it comes to using plastic in our lives. Let’s keep our oceans clean and planet healthy by reducing, reusing and recycling plastic.

*Please note that the views are that of the author, not necessarily that of en-form.


Related links:


Let’s work together to turn the tide on pollution

Plastic from tyres ‘major source’ of ocean pollution

Plastic ‘nurdles’ found littering UK beaches

Plastic oceans: what do we know?


Author Bio

How Can We Mitigate the Impact of Plastic Waste AUTHOR BIO PIC

Erich Lawson is passionate about saving the environment through effective recycling. He has written a wide range of articles on how modern recycling equipment can be used by industries to reduce monthly waste bills and increase recycling revenue. You can learn more about environment savings techniques by visiting Northern California Compactors, Inc blog.

Recycling education: are we in need of a new curriculum?

By Dr. Aidan Bell, director at EnviroBuild.*

In 2015, the ‘waste from households’ recycling rate for England dropped below 44% for the first time since 2011. The latest statistics from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) revealed that the amount of household waste being recycled by English homeowners dropped from 44.8% in 2014 to 43.9% in 2015.

More worrying still is the fact that the amount of household waste being rejected for recycling in England has increased by 84% over the previous four years, according to a BBC Freedom of Information request. Local councils were unable to recycle 338,000 tonnes of waste in 2014-15, a jump from 184,000 tonnes in 2011-12, due to so-called contaminated recycling bins, which are expensive to re-sort.

As a result, 270,000 tonnes of rejected waste was incinerated in 2014. These numbers suggest that while the UK public has increased the amount of waste that they intend to recycle, we are falling at the final hurdle because of incorrect sorting by homeowners: a direct result of a lack of recycling education.

Scotland and Wales both increased their household recycling rates by around 1% in the same time frame, so what’s going wrong in England?

Our map visualises the latest data from Defra and illustrates which English local authorities made an improvement in their household recycling rate between 2014/15 and 2015/16 and which didn’t. Why is there so much disparity between the local authorities?

Envirobuild Recycling Map En-form


Uncertainty and a lack of direction

While the responsibility for collecting and managing waste lies at council level, these decisions are influenced by government policy and funding, so let’s start at the top.

The current Environment Secretary, Andrea Leadsom, has spoken little on the topic of recycling and waste management since assuming her position in July 2016. This raises questions about the fate of recycling policy going forward. If the localism and the lighter regulatory approach established by the previous government are lacking in effectiveness, what will be done to resolve this?

There is yet to be an announcement on the direction of waste policy for the UK during and after Brexit. A recent report from The House of Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee found that the EU has helped to shape ‘over 80%’ of UK environmental legislation on issues including agriculture, air quality and waste; when the UK leaves Europe, will this legislation still apply, and to what extent?

This uncertainty surrounding Brexit was addressed by a cross-party group of MPs at the start of January with a push for a new Environmental Protection Act to be passed before Brexit is completed. This would maintain the UK’s environmental targets and ensure that existing EU environment law does not become ‘zombie legislation’ after the UK’s exit.

Waste management decisions made at local authority level are currently being influenced by government policy that lacks strong direction in its approach of localism, and funded by a centralised budget that is ever-reducing.


The result of this is an inconsistent approach to waste and recycling across England, as demonstrated by our map.

The government and local councils can put the infrastructure in place, however, ultimately, it’s down to the individual homeowner to complete the circle, to recycle the correct plastics and cardboards for their area. In other words, it seems that the British public understands the need to recycle, but that many people do not know how to do it correctly.


It’s no wonder that the homeowner is confused: recycling in the UK is coordinated by more than 300 different recycling schemes, which each have their own list of what can and can’t be recycled, and their own way of educating the public about this.

The result of this is, the so-called contaminated recycling bin that is rejected and redirected to landfill if the local council cannot afford to resort the bin. A lack of clear education for homeowners is preventing England from making recycling progress and contributing to continued damage to the environment.

The drop in the household recycling rate could also suggest that homeowners’ attitudes are changing due to the lack of education: without clear direction, the public will become disillusioned and disengaged with the recycling cause and either recycle the wrong materials or opt to not recycle at all for fear of getting it wrong.

Who’s getting it right?

Happily, this isn’t the case all over England, as our map illustrates. There are some English authorities that are bucking the trend and that have managed to increase the amount of household waste that they are recycling by a considerable amount. Indeed, residents in the ward of Colchester Borough Council increased the amount of household waste that they recycled from 23, 702 tonnes in 2014/15 to 29,661 tonnes in 2015/16.

How are these local authorities improving their residents’ recycling habits? Education.

A quick look at the Richmondshire District Council website demonstrates that recycling and waste management are clearly at the top of this council’s agenda: a scrolling banner informs residents of this local authority that recycling days are changing. It’s not surprising that residents in this ward increased its household recycling rate by 14.7 percentage points between 2014/15 and 2015/16, this was the greatest increase seen in England.

Next to Tameside MBC, which improved its recycling by 7.8 percentage points in the same time period. Again, ‘Refuse & Recycling’ takes pride of place as the first homepage menu tile.

It’s the same story on the Colchester Borough Council website where a ‘Greener Living Newsletter’ is advertised to residents on the first page of the website. Those councils that are making recycling important news in their local area are hitting the national headlines for the improvements that they achieve.

It’s clear to see that those who are educating are winning! These councils, and a number of others, have made information on recycling clearly accessible to their residents, who are in turn recycling more of their household waste.

At EnviroBuild, one of our central aims in supplying a recycled, sustainable product is to boost the demand for recycling. However, increased recycling will only happen if the homeowner receives enough education on how to recycle correctly.

A solution?

An increase in education needs to be at the top of the recycling agenda at both government and local authority level. Recycling needs to be made news, or at least make it into our newsfeeds. Luckily, it would appear that communication with the general public has never been easier thanks to social media.

This communication would be most effective if nationwide recycling guidelines were introduced, with a single scheme in place for the whole country. It would be much easier to publicise a nationwide scheme, and to promote changes and updates, and there would never be area-by- area confusion as to what can and can’t be recycled.

However, a nationwide approach is much easier said than done. Existing infrastructure isn’t identical across England and so proposed unification would call for conversations with the businesses responsible for recycling the waste to decide on an optimal process and to ensure the convergence of a system. With the government determined to continually reduce the budget for environmental issues, it is unlikely that the resources would ever be invested into a unified recycling system. There would also likely be pushback from councils who may feel suspicious of central control and implications on their budgets.

These obstacles mean that for the foreseeable future local authorities need to take it upon themselves to improve their communication with their residents using social media, information on the council’s website and even recycling events.

This increase in activity will require increased budget and this is where the government needs to step up. If localism in recycling and waste management activity is here to stay, then the government needs to provide more budget to enable much needed educational activity to be successful.

*Please note that the views are that of the author, not necessarily that of en-form.









11 Steps to Stop your ‘Junk’ Mail 

Many of us receive unwanted junk mail. Astonishingly it is thought to make up to 4%
of household waste.  However, it is very easy to reduce this waste with minimum effort and at no cost by following these 11 simple steps.

1.  Register at the mailing preference society. This will remove your name from up to 95% of mailing lists used by companies who send out direct mail. The easiest way is to register online at sure you register everyone individually who wants to be removed in your houehold. Also dont forget to register anyone who is deceased or no longer living at
your address to stop this unwanted mail as well.
 Mailing Preference Society, Freepost 22, London W1E 7EZ. Tel 0207 766 4410. Fax 0207 976 1886.

2.  Return junk mail unopened (write please remove from mailing list on the envelope and post back. You do not need to use a stamp for gone aways) or use the freepost envelopes inside the mailings with the request to remove you from the mailing list. Enclose original documents to enable the organisation to trace your details.

3. Return items as gone away or deceased when you receive mail for previous occupants or if the recipient has died or you will continue to receive mail.

4. Contact the sender directly – If you want to stop getting mail from a particular
sender, contact them directly. Include:

  • your full name and address
  • the date
  • this sentence: “Please stop processing my personal data for direct marketing purposes in accordance with Article 21 of the General Data Protection Regulations.”
  • a reasonable date that you want the organisation to stop sending you mail – Article 21 says they should do this within 1 month

5. Stop charity marketing mail You can contact the Fundraising Preference Service if you want to stop getting marketing mail from a charity registered in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. They’ll tell them to remove your contact details within 28 days. The best way to do this
is to register on their website. You can register over the phone if you prefer. Fundraising Preference Service – Telephone: 0300 3033 517

You’ll need to have your contact details and the charity name or registration number to hand.

You can contact the Scottish Fundraising Standards Panel if you want to stop getting
marketing mail from a charity registered in Scotland. You can get more information on their website.

6. When you apply for, or buy any service such as a bank account, if you do not want to recieve mailings from the organisation, make sure you tick the mailing opt out box normally located on the bottom of the form. Or if you have ordered items on the internet make sure you opt out of paper mailings.

7.  Stop unaddresed mail and leaflets delivered by the Royal Mail by opting out
at this 
website However, if you opt out you may not receive government or local authority leaflets distributed by the Royal Mail either. 

8. Register with the ‘Your Choice’ scheme – Registering with the Direct Marketing Association’s ‘Your Choice’ scheme will help reduce the amount of unsolicited leaflets
and marketing junk mail you get.
You’ll start getting less junk mail in about 12 weeks. After 2 years you’ll need to fill in another form. Contact DMA and ask them to send you an opt out form: Direct Marketing Association, DMA House, 70 Margaret Street, London, W1W 8SS. Telephone: 020 7291 3300

9.  To stop mailings from any company with whom you have – or have had – a
customer relationship such as your bank, credit card company, insurance company, phone supplier, for example, you will need to request them not to send you anymore marketing mailings. Do this
either by returning their mailings marked “No more marketing mailings please” or by emailing them or updating your marketing preferences online through your account. 

10.  Putting a ‘No Junk Mail’ sticker on your letterbox can cut down on flyers, leaflets
and newspapers coming through your door.

11. Contact your electoral registration office – You can search for your local electoral registration office on GOV.UK. Ask them to take your details off the ‘open register’ – this is a list of people and addresses that can be bought and used for sending junk mail.You can choose for your details not to be added to the edited electoral register when you fill out an
electoral registration form. Tick the box that says “opt out” of the open register.

To order a free “No Junk Mail” sticker, email or call 0345 603 7625.

25 Top Tips for a Green Christmas

Image by rawpixel CC0

Image by rawpixel CC0

Every year, Christmas places a heavy burden on the earths resources and our environment. However, it is the major festival in Britain, offering lots of fun to millions. We don’t want to be killjoys but we would like to reduce its environmental impact.

Luckily, with a little thought and a bit of information we can significantly reduce its impact, save money and actually have more fun.

On this page you can find out how to reduce the waste you produce over the festive season and recycle what you do produce, as well as how to save energy (from the increased use of all those new electrical appliances) and money and have a very merry green Christmas!

Here’s our top tips for a green Christmas:

Christmas Cards

1.5 billion Christmas cards are thrown away by UK residents each year according to Imperial College researchers.

1.  Why not send an e-card instead of a paper card this year. This is becoming increasingly popular, with senders sometimes donating the money they have saved on cards and postage to a favourite charity.

2.  When Christmas is over don’t just throw your old Christmas Cards away – recycle them. Probably the easiest way is through your kerbside paper collection. If you are feeling particularly crafty you can make them into gift tags for next year. Try to go easy on glitter, cards and paper with glitter on them are difficult to recycle and glitter is a microplastic that has harmful effects on the environment.


Christmas Trees

3.  If you buy a real Christmas Tree make sure you buy it from a sustainable source. For suppliers of UK-grown sustainable Christmas trees check out and try to buy it from a local producer.

4. Don’t let your tree be part of the 90% that end up in landfill. When Christmas is over recycle your real tree by cutting it up and putting it in with your green waste kerbside collection. Alternatively, if you are visiting the zoo see if they want it to use in the animal enclosures. Otherwise, you can recycle it at your local Household Recycling Centre.

5.  Artificial trees -If you have one already, use it for as many years as possible to make the most of it. If you don’t have one, try FreegleFreecycleEbay or Gumtree for a pre-loved one.

Christmas Dinner and all that food and drink

6.  Buy local, seasonal, winter vegetables (these include sprouts, carrots, cabbage, leeks, onions, parsnips, swede, potatoes and nuts such as walnuts and chestnuts). Visit your local Farmers’ Market or Farm shop and pick up some quality local produce to give yourself a treat at Christmas. Find your local market or producer at

7. For those foods where you can’t buy local choose Fairtrade, organic fruit, nuts and chocolate. Visit Fairtrade for a list of Fairtrade products in shops.

8.  Buy bottles of wine and champagne with real corks not screw caps or plastic ones. Not a single tree is cut down in their production – just a small part of the bark is removed leaving the tree alive. In fact insisting on real cork helps maintain one of the most environmentally friendly industries possible. It provides essential employment for the people who work in the cork forests of the Mediterranean and helps to maintain vital habitats for the endangered wildlife of these forests such as the Iberian lynx (the last remaing habitat), Spanish Imperial eagle and the Barbary deer, The stoppers also make excellent fire lighters.

9. And now you have got all those corks recycle them through Recorked! We collect corks here at en-form!

10. Buy and cook only what you need. If you do have food left over make sure you compost your vegetable waste such as potato and sprout peelings and dispose of any cooked and meat waste through your food waste kerbside collection.

11.  Buy your Brussels sprouts from a farm shop or Farmers Market 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. Compost your stalk and sprout peelings.

12.  Don’t forget our garden birds. Use 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.

Buying Presents

13.  Don’t buy useless presents that the recipients don’t want. What about taking them out for a meal, the cinema or buying a season ticket for the local football team or local zoo for a present to remember. Better than another pair of socks.

14.  Try and buy environmentally friendly and useful gifts. What about a bike instead of some electronic game that is discarded on boxing day. Or something very useful but unusual for your elderly relatives like cavity wall insulation that makes a real difference to their quality of life.

15.  We are all a little time poor these days so why not give a little time instead of money. Use your imagination but what about offering a foot or head massage, makeovers, dinner or the washing up. Why spend if you don’t have to? Free Christmas Gift Cheques are a lovely way of making your time the thing that counts.

16. Follow the four gift rule. This is a trend which has become more popular on social media in recent years. Parents pledge to give their children just four presents: Something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read. 


Unwanted Presents

17.  Give all your unwanted presents along with old clothes, toys etc that may have been replaced to local charity shops or on Freegle  freecycle or sell them on ebay or Gumtree

18. Re-gifting’ is OK. There’s much discussion these days about the etiquette behind the trend to ‘re-gift’, that is, to pass on a gift you received but do not need. What’s to discuss? Re-gifting makes perfect sense. If you receive something you really don’t need, look for ways you can reuse this gift by passing it on to someone who can use it. Of course, re-gifting needs to be done with care so as not to offend the original giver, but keeping a gift you don’t need is wasteful.

Recycle all your Christmas waste

19. At Christmas thousands of extra drink cans and bottles are produced. Don’t just throw them away. Make sure you recycle all your glass bottles, cans, aluminium foil, paper and cardboard through your kerbside collection scheme or recycling banks. If you use the recycling banks please remember they are normally overflowing during the festive period so it would be helpful if you could spread your visit to the banks over a longer period.


20.  Save your old Stamps – It won’t be long before Christmas cards start arriving through the post. This year tear off the old stamp and give it to charity. Many charities, schools, churches and clubs save old stamps which they sell for money. You can hand them in at many of the towns charity shops.

Save Energy at Christmas

Christmas is a time of particularly high energy consumption. The whole house is heated as extra family members return for the holidays. Lights, televisions and stereos are left on and cooking appliances are used more heavily. Not to mention the energy needed to power all those electric gadgets bought as presents. Being careful with your energy usage at this time of year can save your household a considerable amount of money.  Visit the Energy section to find out how to save energy at home.

21.  Many gadgets bought for Christmas require batteries, which cost money and need to be disposed of. Try to buy things that don’t need batteries but can be run from the mains or are rechargeable. If you have to buy batteries make sure they are rechargeable ones, preferably Nimh – they .last a lot longer and save you money into the bargain.

22. And when you have had to use batteries make sure you recycle them when they no longer work. Most shops and supermarkets have recycling points these days.

23.  You could also purchase gifts that use renewable energy, for example solar powered (or wind up) radio’s and torches and mobile phone chargers.

24.  Use LED lights for house and Christmas tree lighting – LED (Light Emitting Diode) christmas lights use up to 95% less energy than larger, traditional holiday bulbs and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors. LED christmas lights use .04 watts per bulb, 10 times less than mini bulbs and 100 times less than traditional holiday bulbs. Not only will this save you money but as an added bonus, if one of the LED lights burns out the rest of the strand will stay lit.

25.  Instead of energy-intensive computer games, have fun with board games or old-fashioned parlour games like Macavity’s Cat, charades or Moriarty – our family favourite which consists of blindfolded adversaries trying to whack each other with rolled up newspapers. Search for games on

A Brief Guide To “Going Green”

Check out these 18 easy to understand ways that you could make your life that bit greener – by Geoff.

  1. Encourage/support local “green” activities, clubs, societies, trades, buy food from local growers.
  2. Be informed about energy use,  eg can you read your meters and understand your bill?
    Know how much energy each appliance uses and costs, Turn off unnecessary lights and appliances especially heaters.
  3. Insulate, also make sure your thermostats are correctly set. Boiler serviced?
  4. Know a little about energy (see Ladybird books!) eg do you understand that for every unit of electricity generated power stations burn at least 2.5 units of fuel. On Shore wind generators are the cheapest source of electricity, Off Shore are the dearest – not counting the long term liability of nuclear waste.
  5. Have solar panels both Photo-voltaic & Water heating. (I’ve had solar water heating for 30years – it works).
  6. Know about ground source and air source heating systems and where they are/are not a good idea.
  7. DIY – all sorts, keep your eyes open and learn new skills as a matter of common sense.
    Plant Trees, Grow Veg …Potatoes, Carrots, Onions, Beans Broad/Runner/French, Lettuce,  Radishes, Tomatoes.
  8. Compost garden and household waste, think about having a greenhouse. Conserve water, Install water buts, what about Grey Water?
  9. Use up leftovers, Don’t throw food away.
  10. Keep chickens – last year my 3 hens laid 991 lovely eggs.  – app. £250 at shop prices.  Those birds cost £7 each and their feed totalled less than £40 p.a.
  11. Ride Bikes also Walk – for health, enjoyment, saving car use.  Excepting in bad weather, cycling can and should always be easy, comfortable and enjoyable if it isn’t get help.  (Research has shown that cycling can put off body ageing by many years)
  12. Driving sensibly reduces wear and improves mpg – Some cars have an mpg meter. They ought to be standard in every car.
  13. Think about disposing of anything – there is no such thing as throw away, somewhere someone has to do something with it!
  14. Recycle where possible,  put “it” on Ebay, Freegle, or offer to charity shops.
  15. Print (computer paper) on both sides when suitable.
  16. Complain about things that are wrong  eg  whenever food growing land is taken for any sort of development. Bad design eg new houses where living rooms don’t see the sun, attics don’t allow for use as storage, roofs unsuitable for solar panels, not well insulated, gas boiler fumes output below head height, garages with no person door no room for bicycles freezer or garden tools …. the list goes on and on
  17. Save Xmas card blank page eg for use as lists etc.
  18. Holiday less abroad and more in UK.

These are just a start.  You can probably think of many more opportunities. 

Upcycling Inspiration

Moon Lake Musk Teacup Candle by Marcie CC BY 2.0

Moon Lake Musk Teacup Candle by Marcie CC BY 2.0

Another way to recycle something is to re-use it as something else, also known as up-cycling. Here are some ideas to get you going:

  1. Turn old clothes in to wash cloths and dusters
  2. Use pallet wood for kindling
  3. Use jars and pots for storing screws, buttons, paperclips etc.
  4. Turn wine crates into bookshelves
  5. Make a table out of scaffold boards
  6. Use old saucers and plates as plant pot bases
  7. Turn unwanted bowls and cups into planters
  8. Make pallet wood furniture
  9. Use old glass bottles for vases
  10. Use old tyres to make a potato planter
  11. Make a solar furnace out of old tin cans

Want to see some great upcycling projects in action? Simply follow, PopSugar Smart LivingCheck out our faves…

Reader Recommendations!

Get in touch with your own upcycling ideas to add to our inspirational reader recommendation list  – if you have a tip, simply leave a comment below!

  1. In the sixties I used to use tooth paste tube tops for small knobs just screw through to what ever you want a small knob for.

Recycling Top Tips


Recycle These Cups by Eric CC BY 2.0

Recycle These Cups by Eric CC BY 2.0

If you cannot re-use any items of waste then the next stage is to recycle them. The following materials can all be very easily recycled:

  • Metal
  • Glass
  • Paper
  • Textiles
  • Oil
  • Garden Waste
  • Food Waste

How To Recycle

It is very easy to recycle our waste with minimum effort:

  1. Use kerbside collection services:

The easiest and most efficient way to recycle up to 60% of the rubbish you produce is to use your local kerbside collection scheme. In Colchester you can recycle the following items in this way:

  • Food and drink cans
  • Glass jars and bottles
  • Paper and cardboard
  • Textiles
  • Garden waste
  • Food waste
  • Plastic bottles (HDPE and PET(E) only)
  1. Use recycling centres such as Bottle banks etc.

If you do not have a separate collection or you wish to get rid of your waste more frequently, then the borough has several recycling centres throughout the town, at local villages, superstores and at 2 Household Waste and Recycling Centres. Recycling centres typically consist of banks for:

  • Food and drink cans
  • Glass jars and bottles
  • Paper
  • Textiles (including clothing) and shoes
  • Plastic bottles (HDPE and PET(E) only)
  • Books
  • Beverage cartons (tetrapaks)
  • Garden waste
  • Electrical goods
  • Engine oil

TIP: Don’t make a special journey to a recycling centre, as the use of transport could negate the good your doing. Instead, try to fit it in with your normal visit to the shops, or when you are passing anyway.

  1. Use Scrap metal merchants

If you have other forms of metal you can normally recycle these at scrap metal merchants.

Don’t forget to recycle metal waste from DIY projects such as copper pipes, old sinks etc at scrap metal merchants. You will normally get paid, but bear in mind that the scrap metal market is volatile and prices fluctuate from day to day.

  1. Give an item a new purpose… Upcycle it! 

Another way to recycle something is to re-use it as something else, also known as up-cycling. Check out our great upcycling tips blog full of inspirational ideas!