Mayo households urged to watch their waste over Christmas

The Environmental Protection Agency is urging households in Mayo to stay green this Christmas and recycle their waste. Christmas time produces more waste than any other time of the year, according to the EPA, and this waste can be diverted from landfill if people remember to reduce, reuse and recycle. Households in Mayo recycled 16.7 per cent of their waste according to the most recent data available from the EPA.

Gerry Byrne, Programme Manager with the EPA, said: “The goal to aim for is not simply recycling, but waste prevention – we can all take some simple steps to reduce the amount of waste we generate over the festive season, and make sure we recycle what we can. We would encourage people to make waste prevention a New Year’s resolution and we challenge them to see how empty they can keep their black bin in 2009.”

The EPA has devised a number of tips to help the households of Mayo contribute to a greener Christmas: Give an experience. For example, buying someone a ticket to a show or a voucher towards a weekend break, rather than items that they may not want. Buy enough food to cover your needs but not so much that you will have to dispose of what goes out of date. One third of food bought is actually dumped by consumers. Watch the food serving portions – only prepare what you know will be consumed.

Recycle your wrapping paper – after you’ve unwrapped presents, save the paper for next year. If you need to buy new wrapping paper, check that it’s made out of recycled paper and complete the recycle loop. SNUB - Say No to Unwanted Bags. Bring your own shopping bags. Organise your household bins – a green bin for cardboard, biscuit tins, tetra pack cartons, food cans and drink cans, a compost bin for biodegradable waste and a general waste bin.

Buy rechargeable batteries. If you are buying presents that require batteries, make sure you buy rechargeable batteries to go with them. When disposing of old batteries make sure you recycle them at your local bring banks and recycling centres. Compost your Christmas leftovers. Raw fruit and vegetables, shredded paper, soft card and chopped up Christmas plants are just some of the items that can be added to a compost bin. Don’t throw away your cards – recycle them. Better still, buy recycled cards. Alternatively, you can send an e-card and produce no paper at all. Put leftovers into reusable containers with lids instead of using non-recyclable aluminium foil or plastic film.

Be a green shopper – when shopping for Christmas dinner, avoid products with lots of packaging. Buy loose vegetables instead of packaged. Buy drinks in large containers rather than small containers – there is less waste and it saves you money. Choose decorations that can be reused. Recycle your Christmas tree –– trees can be shredded and shavings used for landscaping. Bring your Christmas tree to your local recycle centre. Alternatively, buy a tree that can be planted in the garden after the Christmas period.

Give any unwanted presents to your local charity shop – someone will want them and it takes pressure off the environment if you don’t throw them away.

For more prevention tips including waste, water, energy and eco-travel, see www.greenhome.ie Your local authority can direct you to your nearest recycling facilities, or check out www.raceagainstwaste.ie for a list of bring banks and recycling centres.

By following these tips from the Environmental Protection Agency over the Christmas period you are contributing to a greener future for everyone.

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