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12 days of Christmas with a green twist


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By guest-blogger Janet Sparrow, Recycling Programs Manager at Planet Ark.

Christmas is a great time to celebrate with family and friends, but it’s also the season when we spend the most money and generate the most waste. At this time of year, a few simple actions can make a big difference to the environment.

Gift giving can be a rewarding and sometimes stressful part of the festive season, but it doesn’t have to cost the earth. I like to give thoughtful gifts with a lower environmental impact, such as experiences, vouchers, donations or charity gifts – these items make for memorable presents, and they’re unlikely to sit in a cupboard collecting dust.

As a nation, we’re tipped to spend over $10 billion on food this December, yet 35 per cent of what we send to landfill is food. Planning meals ahead of time is one of the easiest ways to prevent food wastage and save money.

Reducing waste to landfill is something we can all work on, particularly at Christmas. Make the most of your recycling bin by flattening and crushing your recyclables, place your food scraps in the compost or worm farm, and pop the remainder into the rubbish bin. For anything you’re unsure about, visit http://RecyclingNearYou.com.au

Planet Ark’s 12 Do’s of Christmas fact sheet has plenty of tips to help you reduce waste over the festive season. Take a look and see how many you can do!

The 12 DOs of Christmas:

1. Buy good quality decorations that can be reused or make your own.

2. Check that your work Christmas party organiser sets up well-signed recycling options for the event.

3. Give low impact gifts like experiences or practical, durable items that meet a need.

4. Use paper wrapping (rather than foil or plastic) and reuse or recycle it afterwards.

5. Prevent food wastage - only open what you need, serve smaller portions, store and use left-overs.

6. Compost or worm farm your unavoidable food scraps.

7. Sort and recycle all your aluminium cans, custard cartons, glass and plastic bottles and other packaging.

8. Flatten aluminium cans, drink cartons and boxes to save space in your recycling bin, then store any excess until your next collection or drop it at a recycling facility.

9. Recycle any old mobile phones, TVs, computers or printer cartridges that get replaced.

10. Give a recharger pack with any battery-operated gifts - it’ll save money and reduce the gift’s impact.

11. Ensure your car runs efficiently by inflating the tyres to the correct pressure and tuning the engine, and recycle your old car oil, tyres and batteries.

12. See if your council has a special mulching service for live Christmas trees or take it to the garden section of your local recycling facility.

For more information on these recycling tips, to find local options and tips for reducing your eco footprint this Christmas visit 12dos.planetark.org

Janet has been working in the environmental and waste management sector for the last eight years, and she currently manages Planet Ark’s suite of recycling programs and initiatives. These include the well-known ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark’ program, National Recycling Week, and the RecyclingNearYou and BusinessRecycling websites. With a Masters of Environmental Management, Janet has previously worked in NSW state and local government, in the university sector in the Philippines, and she is the current Vice Chair of the NSW Waste Educators Working Group.