Dreaming of a ‘Green Christmas’

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is urging everyone in Offaly to have a very merry ‘Green Christmas’. Over the upcoming holiday season more waste will be generated than at any other time during the year and the EPA wants to remind households in Offaly to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and jingle all the way to their green bin, the local recycling centre or a compost heap.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is urging everyone in Offaly to have a very merry ‘Green Christmas’. Over the upcoming holiday season more waste will be generated than at any other time during the year and the EPA wants to remind households in Offaly to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle and jingle all the way to their green bin, the local recycling centre or a compost heap.

Jonathan Derham from the EPA says, “The EPA wishes everyone in Offaly a very Happy Christmas and New Year. We’d like to remind people that by keeping some useful waste prevention ideas in mind we can all make cost savings and give to each other without giving to landfills this season.”

He continued, “By following these tips from the EPA over the Christmas period, and by making these habits part of our New Year’s resolutions, we can all contribute to a greener future. This is not just about recycling – it is about preventing waste across a range of activities. By not generating waste, we eliminate the need to handle, transport, treat and dispose of it.”

Over Christmas Irish households produce more than 65,000 tonnes of used packaging. This is enough to fill 2.5 million green bins. To reduce these figures think about recycling used wrapping paper. If any sticky tape is stuck on the paper, don’t worry, it is recyclable.

Alternatively you can actually iron out any creases in wrapping paper and keep it for next year. Get children involved by getting them to turn last year’s cards into this year’s gift tags. This is fun, environmentally friendly and cost effective. Electronic cards are also a great, easy way to get in touch with loved ones, either in other countries or close to home. Sites such as www.123greetings.com/events/christmas/ allow you to send free greetings cards.

The smell of a Christmas tree is an essential part of many homes during the festive season and real trees are good for the environment as they are biodegradable, recyclable and help to remove carbon from the atmosphere while they are growing. Check with Offaly County Council for details of local Christmas tree recycling facilities.

The average Irish family throws out €700 worth of food each year and this has a negative effect on both personal finances and the environment. Food waste increases substantially over Christmas, with more food thrown out during the festive season than at any other time of the year due to over-buying.

In the run up to Christmas remember to defrost your freezer, it will work more efficiently and create more space to store leftover food. For leftovers Stop Food Waste and Wicklow County Council have developed a wonderful recipe guide for the 12 days of Christmas on their website www.stopfoodwaste.ie.

Many people will receive Christmas presents of new electrical and electronic equipment and their older model will then have to be disposed of so remember to recycle waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). Retailers are required by law to take back WEEE from householders on a one-for-one basis and this service is free of charge. Alternatively, old mobile phones can be donated to The Jack & Jill Foundation at www.jackandjill.ie.

Lots of batteries are used over Christmas and used batteries are toxic to the environment. Recycling or proper disposal prevents dangerous elements such as lead, mercury, and cadmium from entering the environment. Take old batteries to any retail outlet selling equivalent type batteries or to your local authority civic amenity sites. WEEE Ireland is running a battery recycling drive this Christmas and hopes to recycle 4.5 million waste batteries by the end of the year.

Re-gifting is good environmental practice as it reduces the amount of goods thrown away. Sites such as Jumbletown www.jumbletown.ie/forums/index.php allow you to pass items on to someone who might want them.

Over 80,000 tons of old clothes will be thrown away around Christmas so if you receive some new items for your wardrobe, make sure you donate your old clothes to a local charity shop. While doing your gift and grocery shopping try to buy produce locally, this supports small suppliers and your local community, while minimising carbon footprints.

Finally, it’s great to have a warm, cosy house at Christmas so keep curtains closed and doors shut; this keeps heat in, saves energy and money. Furthermore, with lots of people in the house over the festive season, turn down the thermostat by 1C, this saves money and reduces the Christmas carbon footprint while providing a great excuse to get everyone wearing a special Christmas jumper!

Offaly County Council can direct you to your nearest recycling facilities, or check out http://www.repak.ie/recycling_facilities.php for a list of bring banks and recycling centres.