Jenny Lowes, a service improvement officer with our waste management team, shares her ideas for a green Christmas

For most of us, Christmas this year is going to be different – so perhaps we should try to buy Christmas presents differently, too.

Instead of buying endless presents online, I am trying to support local businesses and buying vouchers for family members for local restaurants, shops, hairdressers or beauticians that would appreciate the business – and at least they can choose something that they would want or would enjoy themselves.

Vouchers work well this year as there will be some family I won’t see but for whom would normally buy a present, so a quick online search to find a farm shop or tea room near where they live and a phone call and a voucher is on its way – it’ll cut down on postage costs, too.

Realistically, a voucher may not cut it with younger children, but ask yourself would they really mind if it were pre-loved (second hand)? You can pick up great items from the Facebook Marketplace, eBay and charity shops and some are as good as new (a PS4 and phone are coming to this house courtesy of above mentioned).

If you are having a clear-out before Christmas, please donate items to charity shops or to the new toy libraries that have started across North Yorkshire (most can be found on Facebook groups). The 20 household waste recycling centres in North Yorkshire all have containers for reusable items.

Christmas cards may be going out of fashion, but sometimes it’s hard not to send one, so if you do buy some it’s best to avoid glittery, embellished cards unless you know the recipient will craft with it.  Plain cards can be recycled within paper and card recycling. If you receive any with glitter or other non-recyclable additions, these will need to be removed before the card can go for recycling. Shiny wrapping paper cannot be recycled as some of it has a plastic/foil mix. Stick to normal paper and remove the sticky tape before it goes in your recycling container at home – but check with your collection authority whether they will take it. Otherwise, it will need to go in the rubbish bin or use it to light the fire.

Advent calendars are a big hit in this house – whether it is chocolate, traditional or beauty, we all love the build up to Christmas. This year I have tried to reuse my old beauty advent calendar from last year (it was too nice to put in the recycling) so I have refilled it with various useful items for my daughters (they’re sharing it or it would cost me a fortune to fill two). So far, the contents include a reusable facemask, hand sanitiser (very 2020 themed!) face cloths, sweets and money. I still have to fill the last 10 so I hope I get inspiration before the days catch up on me…

If you want to make small changes next year, I can recommend the following:

  • Use a hand soap bar instead of a bottle,
  • Use beeswax wraps instead of cling film
  • Buy some fruit and veg net bags so you can buy loose in the supermarket
  • Take a reusable water bottle and mug everywhere you go
  • Buy a rechargeable battery charger
  • Use reusable face coverings as much as you can
  • Avoid wipes and use reusable cotton pads/face cloths for makeup removal

In my opinion, the best thing you can do for the planet is to start home composting. You are recycling your waste in your garden and producing a product that you can use. If you haven’t got a garden, a wormery would deal with leftover food waste. Home composting is easy and we have lots of information to help you get started.

You can buy subsidised compost bins for £11 at some of the HWRCs – MaltonNorthallertonSeamer CarrSelbySkipton, West Harrogate and Whitby – or order directly for home delivery.

If you do end up with extra rubbish or overflowing recycling this Christmas, the household waste recycling centres will be open every day apart from 25 and 26 December and 1 January and every Wednesday. Opening times at this time of year are 8.30am to 4pm. We still have some restrictions, so it’s best to check online or watch our video.

Finally, remember to check with your district or borough council for refuse and recycling collections from home as the days will change with the bank holidays.