A sustainable Christmas in Havering - recycle what you can

PUBLISHED: 15:00 30 December 2017 | UPDATED: 15:39 30 December 2017

Alan Howe and John Sharrock from Barkingside 21

Alan Howe and John Sharrock from Barkingside 21


Think about how to recycle your Christmas cards. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThink about how to recycle your Christmas cards. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

It’s that odd period between Christmas and New Year when all the presents are opened and everyone’s stomachs are stuffed.

Before the fun is really all over, why not use this time to consider how you might dispose of your Christmas tree, leftover Christmas cards and mountains of wrapping paper.

With fly-tipping a regular scourge on our streets, festive recycling is something we should all be aspiring to do, says environmentalist Alan Howe, 68.

“There is no excuse not to be green at Christmas,” said the secretary of community and environmental group Barkingside 21 in neighbouring Redbridge.

Festive tips

Remember - you can compost over a third of the every day things you throw away, including vegetable peelings from your Christmas roast.

Festive lights:

Items that have a plug, use batteries, need charging or have a picture of a wheelie bin crossed out are known as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). This includes Christmas lights or fairy lights. These can be recycled.

Cut the wrap:

Christmas creates mountains of packaging and wrapping yet some of this can be minimised by keeping the packaging that we use simple.

Gift experiences, theatre and concert tickets, and meal vouchers are also some of the many presents that don’t need wrapping.

If you do have to wrap:

Avoid metallic or plastic coated paper as they can’t be recycled.

Remember to squash packaging down as much as possible to make the most of the orange recycling sacks.

Break down cardboard boxes and, if necessary, leave them next to your orange sacks for collection

“Christmas was in fact originally green, Father Christmas had a green outfit but it was changed to red by Coca-Cola.

“[The festive period] was all about nature and having food that was in season which is why we have brussels sprouts and tops.

“It was not about trying to 
force it to do something it is not meant to do.”

Alan, who became a green campaigner after retiring in 2002, says it’s easy to be thoughtful whether that’s consuming less 
or having your bulky waste 
taken away.

Food waste

The council estimates food waste alone can make up a massive 80 per cent of our black sack rubbish over Christmas and New Year, so start cutting down now...

Love your leftovers: They’re one of the delights of Christmas so log onto for recipe inspiration using leftovers.

Freeze cooked turkey and ham. When you’re ready, thaw in the fridge to use in casseroles, curries, pies and sandwiches.

Leftover party food such as sausage

rolls, mince pies and quiches can be frozen over Christmas and used in

packed lunches for when you return to work or school.

Cllr Osman Dervish, said: “Each year the average family throws away enough food to make a thousand meals.

“By making even a small change, such as freezing leftovers, or meal planning, you could save £60 from your monthly food shop as well as cutting the cost of the borough’s waste disposal, which last year totalled just over £14million.”

He chooses to give money rather than buy presents – even for his grandchildren – in a pledge to be more environmentally-friendly.

“We spend time with them, that is what they want,” he said.

“My own kids used to throw away the toys and play with 
the boxes.”

If you are already enjoying your presents then it’s not too late – just read our tips on how to recycle and do your bit.

Meanwhile, Alan says the message to be more green is 
more prominent than it was back in the 1990s when Barkingside 21 was set up.

“We are getting there,” he said. “The message is gradually getting through and people are becoming more savvy about these things.”

What of those who don’t care? What message should we give?

Alan said: “We are running out of places to put things and it is ruining our environment.

“Our environment is a support system and if we kill that we have killed ourselves.”

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