Warwickshire waste experts serve up festive tips for a green Christmas - The Leamington Observer

Warwickshire waste experts serve up festive tips for a green Christmas

Leamington Editorial 2nd Dec, 2020   0

WASTE and recycling experts in Warwickshire have provided some top tips to help residents keep it green this Christmas.

This handy guide covers a number of tricky topics, from the plastic vs real tree debate to the all important seasonal buffet, to help ensure festivities can be enjoyed with minimal waste woes.

Trees: It wouldn’t seem like Christmas without a tree, but which is the best option for the environment – real or fake – based on their full life cycle from production to disposal?

Potted Christmas trees are the best option for the environment. They won’t be thrown away after Christmas and, for those who are green fingered, can be reused for next year. In the meantime, it will continue to grow and take in the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, creating a mini carbon sink. The Royal Horticultural Society has this guide to help care for potted and cut Christmas trees which need a lot of TLC.

Cut Christmas trees are the next best option because they because they are a natural product and while growing take in carbon dioxide – an estimated one tonne of carbon dioxide per acre. They should then be recycled through the green kerbside bin to finally be composted in an invessel composter.

For those who already have a plastic Christmas tree, it is important it is used for as long as possible. While it is the least environmentally friendly option, giving a large carbon footprint for production and disposal, the fact it won’t decompose bodes well. Ideally they should be re-used between 12 and 15 years to account for their carbon footprint, but even longer would be better.

Cutting down on festive food waste: It is estimated UK households throw away over seven million tonnes of food each year at Christmas. Much of this food could have been eaten as leftovers the next day.

Tessa Tricks, Head of Food at environmental charity, Hubbub, said: “It is hugely encouraging to see how Christmas food shopping habits are changing this year. Christmas needn’t be any less fun when we cut down on our festive waste. In fact, it’s the opposite – this is a challenge all our family and friends can get involved in.

“Food waste, particularly at Christmas time, is a massive contributor to climate change and yet with a few simple steps we can dramatically reduce how much we throw away.”

Here are Hubbub’s tips to cut down food waste this Christmas:

Plan ahead – only buy enough food for the planned meals and number of guests, and check expiry dates.

Avoid panic buying ahead of the bank holidays.

Choose turkey sizes carefully.

Make room in your freezer in the run up to Christmas and check out Hubbub’s guide to what food can be frozen.

For those short of fridge space, take advantage of the cold weather and consider keeping fruit, veg and drinks fresh in a cool box outside, or even in your car boot.

Don’t overdo buffet food or nibbles and put leftovers away in the fridge rather than leave them out overnight and ending up binning them.

Check fridges before travelling away from home and freeze or pass on any food that will be out of date by your return.

Try out apps, such as OLIO, to share food with those nearby, as well as family and friends.

Remember food might still be eaten after its best before date – check it looks and smells OK. Food past its best can still be enjoyed in other ways, like a healthy home-made soup.

If turkey leftovers are never-ending, cook up a batch of stew or curry and freeze it for January.

Present wrapping: It is possible to give beautifully wrapped gifts that are still eco-friendly.

Think about buying wrapping that can be either reused, such as a scarf, or recycled. Check out Warwickshire Recycles’ Pinterest board to get started.

Not all wrapping paper is recyclable. Although most are paper based, they can be coated in plastic, making it very difficult to separate out the paper for recycling.

Try to buy wrapping paper that is 100 per cent paper and glitter free. Try the scrunch test if you are unsure whether it is recyclable – if you can’t scrunch it, you can’t recycle it.


Most cards are paper based and can be recycled, along with their envelopes, either kerbside or at local recycling points such as household waste recycling centres or collection banks in supermarket car parks.

Any embellishments such as ribbons or glitter cannot be recycled so should be removed first by simply tearing off that section. Batteries should also be removed from musical cards and disposed of at battery recycling points.

Preloved presents:

Help out charities, and the planet, by gifting preloved items this Christmas. Covid restrictions may limit access to some high street shops, but charity shops are still available online and on eBay. Warwickshire’s reuse shops – Coventry and Warwickshire Age UK and Mary Ann Evans Hospice – are a treasure trove full of unusual items that will cost a fraction of their original price. Go with a budget and an open mind.

Food waste and composting:

All food waste, including turkey carcasses, plate scrapings and any unusable leftovers, can all be recycled through the green kerbside bin or recycled at home in a hot compost bin such as the Green Johanna, available to buy at a subsidised rate through the Warwickshire Recycles website.


Foil is one of the most important materials to recycle due to its environmental benefits. The good news is clean household foil and aluminium trays are widely recycled in household collection schemes, household waste recycling centres and at recycling points. Collect any small pieces of foil in a tin can so they don’t get lost.


According to Directgov, over 12,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions could be avoided, if the UK can meet its recycling target of at least 45 per cent of batteries. There are different types of batteries which can contain dangerous chemicals including lead, cadmium, zinc, lithium and even mercury. That said, it is important they are disposed of correctly through recycling schemes and not placed in the the residual bin. Most shops and supermarkets that sell batteries have collection bins in-store for used batteries. Otherwise they can be recycled at Household Waste Recycling Centre.

Lastly, pre-book visits to the recycling centres. Booking systems will be in place over the Christmas period at the county’s recycling centres. The time slots are released a week in advance and can be booked online at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/hwrc.

Meanwhile check your local council for more information www.warwickshire.gov.uk/kerbside on what can be recycled kerbside and for any changes to collection services.

And one last tip for families with a digital home assistant, such as Alexa or Siri – set a reminder of the changes the day before they happen.

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