How we celebrate Christmas can have a significant impact on the environment. Wicklow County Council would like to encourage households to think about avoiding waste particularly food this Christmas.
Most of us recognise that the gift giving can go a bit too far, the amount of food bought and served can be excessive, and that the bins will be over full when it’s all done and dusted. With a bit more thought and planning we can have a better Christmas, one that is kinder to the environment and less demanding on our finances.
Good planning is the key to success with Christmas shopping using a well-made list. When shopping at Christmas think carefully about perishables and when they will be used. Expensive meats, salmon, cheeses, desserts can get thrown out after Christmas because too much food was bought.
When doing last minute shopping for presents don’t reach for the gift set or novelty socks that nobody wants to receive. Think about local services that give an experience for a gift rather than piling the house up with more unneeded stuff; examples include vouchers for local restaurants, a spa treatment, a round of golf, a weekend away, or a trip to the bowling alley.
As we purchase more food in the run-up to Christmas storage can become an issue. Try to make sure that you maximise available storage by using up older stocks in the fridge, freezer and cupboards in advance to make space for the extras at Christmas.
Make sure to continue good rotation of products over the festive season, pulling older foods to the front and putting newer stock to the back. It’ s easy to get out of sync at this time of the year but that can lead to a bin full of food that cost a lot to buy in the first place.
For the big meal on Christmas day bear in mind that with the wide choice of food for the plate, smaller portions of each food are usually the order of the day so don’t cook big portions of sides.
We all like a bit of tradition on the plate but it’s no harm to leave something off the menu if it rarely gets touched.
The 26th can be marked as national leftover day. Wicklow County Council has a 12 days of Christmas recipe book available on www.wicklow.ie with some interesting recipes for the Christmas leftovers.
Clearing up after Christmas
After Christmas the focus switches to recycling. With all the extra wrapping and packaging the Green bin will quickly fill, a visit to the local recycling centre will help you to recycle the extra material.
If replacing an electrical item either for Christmas or during the sales, don’t forget you can bring the old item to the recycling centre.
We purchase 30m batteries in the run-up to Christmas. Bring old batteries to your local recycling centre or shop.
One of the key challenges for 2018 is to improve the quality of our recycling as well as the quantity. As much as 30 per cent of what people put in the green bin for recycling is unsuitable.
Contamination in green bins has reached levels which now threaten the viability of processing materials for recycling. Last year 60 tonnes of recycling were returned to Dublin from Rotterdam because of contamination.
Experts are warning that many markets for recycling could shut down in the near future if we don’t improve the quality of what we are putting in the green bin. This warning is coming from both Irish companies that process material and export markets.
Many recyclables are still going in the general waste bin while many items that can’t be processed are mistakenly put in the green bin.
There is a new campaign from the Department of Climate Change and Environment to encourage better recycling in Ireland, #recyclinglistIRL. This has a simple list of materials that can put in the green bin and this is common to all bin companies in Ireland. Visit www.recyclinglistlireland.ie for more information.
Paper, cardboard, rigid plastics, tins and cans all make the list once clean, dry and loose. Soft plastics and bags are not included and should not go in the recycling bin.
Remember that Wicklow’s recycling centres can take a greater range of material as they are taken separately and don’t need mechanical separation which cannot deal with some materials.
The brown bin for food waste is also critical to improving the sustainability of our waste management. Bin providers should be offering a brown bin collection for food waste in all towns of Wicklow now and this is a cheaper way to dispose of waste than landfill when not composting at home.
Don’t forget when taking down the real Christmas tree that they can be brought to certain location up till the 13th January for free shredding funded by Wicklow County Council.
Free talks on recycling are available to any adult group in the county from the recycling ambassadors programme. Voice are being funded by the Department of Climate Change and Environment to deliver the talks. Contact Voice Ireland for details.