A sustainable Christmas in Redbridge - recycle what you can

PUBLISHED: 15:00 30 December 2017

Alan Howe and John Sharrock from Barkingside 21

Alan Howe and John Sharrock from Barkingside 21


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

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

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

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

Top tips

Don’t dump your bulky waste:

Everything from TVs to sofas is collected for free. Book a collection online at or call 020 8554 5000.

Visit your local reuse and recycling centre:

More than 30 types of rubbish can be reused or recycled at Chigwell Road Reuse and Recycling Centre, Woodford Bridge. Batteries, clothes, juice cartons, old plastic garden chairs, electrical goods, white goods and paint are just some of the items that can be recycled.

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.


Redbridge Council will collect and compost your tree for free. Leave it at the boundary of your property before January 12.

You can also recycle your Christmas cards, packaging, unwanted furniture and more. To find out more, visit

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

“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.

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

Food waste

Food waste alone can make up a massive 80per cent of our black sack rubbish over Christmas and New Year, so do your bit to cut down.

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.

Don’t waste any fresh herbs that are left over. You can puree and freeze them in an ice cube tray to add to dishes as and when you need them.

You can also freeze wine too and use it at a later date in sauces or gravy - or a drink.

“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 evironment.

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

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