Bedford Repair Cafe share their top tips for a green Christmas

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fairy lights
There is nothing that can't be improved by chucking some fairy lights over it...

While Christmas is the season of goodwill, it is also the season of enormous amounts of rubbish, much of which cannot be recycled.

We asked Bedford Repair Cafe‘s Katie Allen and Daniel Churchill for their top tips for maximising your recycling and minimising your waste this Christmas, and here’s what they suggest…

“Did you know that glittery wrapping paper, cards, bows and ribbons cannot go in the orange recycling bin? If you’re feeling creative, cut up non-recyclable Christmas cards and repurpose them into tags for next year,” said artist and Repair Rebel, Katie.

“This requires zero artistic skills and minimal effort. Win win.

“Pintrest is a great place to look for crafty inspiration. We’ve found ‘51 Ways to Repurpose Christmas Cards’, so that should keep you busy til at least New Year’s Day.”

Bedford Repair Cafe co-founder and fixer, Daniel Churchill has some great energy and planet-saving tips too.

LEDs are better than filament bulbs,” said Daniel. “LED fairy lights use less power so are generally better for the environment. And you can leave them on for longer without worrying about the electricity bill.

Rechargeable batteries are better than disposables. Many new battery packs feature lithium ion cells than can be charged over USB with any old phone charger. This is better than chucking and replacing AAs every few weeks, which have an environmental impact to both produce and recycle.

Plug-in lights are better than battery powered. USB Lithium ion cells are very convenient, but are in themselves damaging to produce. Better still to skip the batteries and plug straight into the wall.

Repair is better than landfill. Unknot that nest of lights from the late 80s, replace the odd broken bulb, clean the electrical contacts, check the fuse is ok, and re-join any broken wires. Ta-da, you now have a perfectly good set of vintage lights.

“And finally, reuse is better than buying new. The best thing we can do for our environment is to reduce the amount of plastics and electronics we buy.”

Don’t use shiny or glittery paper or ribbon, as it can’t be recycled.

To help you minimise your landfill waste this year, Bedford Borough Council have provided this handy guide for what can and can’t be recycled in your orange bin.

In the orange bin:

  • Plain paper, gift wrap and cards
  • Cardboard packaging from deliveries and gifts
  • Plastic bottles and tubs
  • Plastic packaging around toys
  • Plastic bags eg bread bags or those vegetables are packaged in
  • Empty metal tins and cans

In the black bin:

  • Glittery wrapping paper, gift bags and cards. Or you could save them to reuse next year.
  • Foil or shiny wrapping paper and gift bags
  • Bows and ribbons
  • Plastic or glass baubles. Or save them for next year’s Christmas tree
  • Polystyrene packaging or plastic strapping around larger parcels
  • Food waste, unless you have a home composter

Don’t forget, you can also recycle your used batteries, if you haven’t already heeded all of Daniel’s excellent advice and switched to rechargeable.

They need to be removed from any toys or games and put them in a small, clear plastic bag. Leave this on top of your black bin lid on your next collection day.

If you’re unsure of the Christmas collection days, all details can be found here.


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