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Reduce your carbon footprint this festive season

Reducing your carbon footprint this festive season need not be a daunting task, recycling boss says.

“With the end of the year looming, many individuals, households and businesses begin to file, archive and clean out cupboards and storerooms to make space for the new year. These efforts often generate large amounts of unwanted paper. Couple this with the extra packaging and wrapping from festive gifts and season celebrations and you have yourself a stack of paper waste,” says Managing Director of Mpact Recycling, John Hunt.

There is no denying the amount of good that recycling can do for the environment. The holidays present an unmissable opportunity to put such practices into effect.   This season does not have to be a time that people waste more; whether on disposable gift-wrap paper, Christmas cards, gift packaging or decorations on every wall.

Refuse needs to be checked for items that can be recycled.  So before you even throw that piece of paper into the dustbin, throw it into a separate bag or bin. “Much of what we call rubbish is actually recyclable. With kerbside collections closing on December 16 and resuming operations on January 5, we recommend visiting Mpact Recycling’s website to locate the nearest paper-bank or school where you can donate your recyclables to in the meantime or alternatively wait until early January to put your full Ronnie bags out onto the pavement,” Hunt advises.

Importantly, milk and juice cartons can now be recycled too. This is since Mpact opened its first liquid packaging recycling plant at its Springs paper mill earlier this year. The plant is expected to recycle approximately 25,000 tonnes of liquid packaging products per year.

In addition to getting recyclable items to their nearest school or community paperbank or their nearest buy-back recycling centre, South Africans can consider converting or reusing some of these everyday items, giving them a new purpose this Christmas season. In the interest of sustainability, paper can be up-cycled into decorations. Magazine paper can be used to create miniature Christmas trees or festive bows for gifts. Children can get into the holiday spirit by making paper chains out of scrap paper and using a little festive glitter to spruce them up. Just remember to put this all into your Ronnie bag or drop off at your local school or community paper-bank to be recycled next year!

Plastic can also be up-cycled into creative Christmas gifts. Different colour plastic bottle tops can be used to make bead curtains and two-litre plastic bottles can be used to create Christmas lamps, vertical herb gardens or handy holders for stationery, buttons and other knick-knacks. Just remember to keep this separate for your local collector to take on refuse day after the festivities have ended.

For any food waste you may have – remember you can use it in your compost heap.  
The festive season is a time for spending time with family and friends, but it’s also a time to remember our sustainable living goals and be mindful of reducing our waste. And reducing waste to landfill is one of the greatest gifts we, as South Africans, can give to this beautiful country of ours.