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Waste and recycling- why should we care?

There are three key reasons  why waste can make a big difference to our impact on the environment: – all of the products we use need energy to produce and dispose of, waste sent to landfill gives rise to toxic gas as it decomposes, and finally because sending waste to landfill is expensive which ultimately means higher council taxes. 

Recycling is getting more popular and the amount of waste being sent to landfill across the UK has fallen substantially, with Oxfordshire comparing well to other counties in the UK. But while the amount of waste we produce has fallen, and recycling increased, we have a long way to go compared to other European countries, showing that there is scope for further reductions.

What can we do?

For the post war generation, reducing waste was built into the way they lived their lives – clothes were mended rather than thrown away and all food was eaten, even cuts of meat that we consider unpalatable. There may be no way back to those times, but we can all reduce waste through some fairly simple measures:

Reduce: the number of things you buy – the best option for saving energy and reducing landfill – and best for your pocket too. Some people are refusing to buy items with too much packaging, and trying not to buy anything that they don’t really need (or want!), others keep plastic bags in the car for re-use.

How much time have you spent earning money to buy things that you have disposed of or hardly use? 

Re-use: using things several times over – or giving them away to someone else to reuse is also a good option – making more use of the energy that originally produced them.  There are many options for handing on stuff that you no longer need, all of which members of WACA can recommend:

Charity shops.  It's worth checking what type of goods a shop specialises in, and be careful to avoid donating items that are not quite fit for sale, as the shop has to pay for them to be landfilled.  Oxfam will send specialist items such as stamps or anything else valuable to shops that specialise in these, ensuring they get a good price.

Gumtree.  This is an excellent  free site for selling all sorts of items.  The only problem is that it's Oxford based, and so this does limit usefulness for lower cost items.  Adverts stay live for 3 months.

Ebay.  You may have bought from it, but have you considered selling from it?  Start with some low cost items that you know will sell in order to understand how it works and build up positive feedback, and then progress to more expensive items.  It’s a bit of hassle, but also great fun.

Freecycle.  A Vale based site offering items for free.  This is good for disposing of all sorts of things, but you have to accept that some people are just going to car boot items.

Specialist  web-sites.  Web-based user communities can be great for finding or disposing of slightly unusual items.

The Vale Recycling Scheme

Recycling is the least good option, but often unavoidable, so the new recycling scheme is greatly welcomed.  Some thoughts:

You don’t have to let the Council have your compostable food waste, use what you can to make your own compost.

Batteries are no longer collected, so take them to a local collection point.  Any store selling the equivalent of one packet of 4 AA batteries a day must have a recycling collection box.

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