Christmas time, mistletoe and tofurkey
Published: 21 Dec 2011
Christmas is a time of festivities, fun, games, terrible jumpers and unfortunately, waste. So to make your Christmas more environmentally friendly, why not follow some useful tips?
- as the UK uses approximately 200,000 trees worth of Christmas cards each year, why not send recycled cards, e-cards or make your own;
- avoid plastic, non-biodegradable decorations and use some of the natural decorations available, such as fir cones;
- make your own Christmas decorations using holly, ivy, berries and evergreen, or even string some popcorn up and use it as a garland - not only eco-friendly but tasty too;
- buying a real tree? Buy one that has been grown locally by a sustainable grower, and if it still has the roots attached, replant it so you can use it year after year;
- use energy saving lightbulbs and LEDs for your Christmas lights, or alternatively switch your lights off and get in the festive spirit by lighting scented candles;
- get creative with your wrapping and use old paper bags, posters, glossy magazines and decorate with scraps of fabric from old clothes - embroider an old sock with the person's name and feed the ribbon through the hole in the toe;
- don't get caught up with buying unwanted gifts for friends, why not make them a meal instead, make a donation to charity in their name or even adopt a penguin on their behalf;
- avoid using disposable plates and cutlery, use real crockery, especially if you have an energy saving dishwasher;
- recycle! Check what can be recycled by your local council and also at your nearest recycling bank;
- and finally...buy an organic turkey for the Christmas table, or even dazzle your tastebuds with tofurkey!
We at Cedrec are dreaming of a green Christmas, with every Christmas card we re-use, may your days be merry and energy-saving bright, and may all your Christmases be green!
Agency to crackdown on illegal waste sites
Published: 21 Dec 2011
The Environment Agency has set up a taskforce in order to crack down on illegal waste sites over the next two years in England and Wales. Such sites can threaten the environment, contaminate land and rivers and pose a risk to human health. The taskforce will include police detectives and will be funded by a £5 million investment from the Agency.
The Agency have so far identified around 600 active illegal waste sites in England and Wales, and it estimates that half of them will be within only 50 metres of schools, homes or sensitive environmental sites. Those running such sites could face extensive fines if caught. For example, the owner of an illegal waste site in Slough was given a two year community sentence and ordered to pay nearly £900,000 in August 2011 for running the site.
However, because of their serious impact on the environment, as well as being against the law, such sites have to be dealt with. Lord Taylor, the Environment Minister for England, said, "These sites do untold damage to the environment and cause misery for local people that have to live with toxic fumes, noise at all hours and unbearable smells."
The head of the Agency, Dr Paul Leinster, has stated that these crimes will not go unpunished. He said, "Waste crime is a serious offence. The Environment Agency is working with all enforcement agencies to stamp it out. If you're involved in illegal waste activities, you should be looking over your shoulder and expecting a visit from our enforcement officers. We'll press for the strongest possible penalties - including prison - for those convicted of these crimes against communities."
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Simples? Apparently not
Published: 21 Dec 2011
The Government's "simplified" National Planning Policy Framework has yet again come under attack, this time from MPs. The Framework was designed to reduce over 1,000 pages of planning guidance to just 52 as, it is claimed, a simplified system is needed to boost growth and sustainable development.
Although many welcome the simplification, it seems it has created more confusion than anything else. A Commons communities committee reported that the guidance has been slimmed down so much it is now "unhelpfully vague."
It has already been subjected to a high profile campaign from the National Trust who were worried that the Framework placed too much emphasis on economy, detracting from other planning elements such as the environment and society. The Daily Telegraph has simultaneously been running a "Hands off our land" campaign in response to, amongst other things, fears that the Framework may make it easier to develop the greenbelt.
Most of the concerns stem from the "presumption of sustainable development" included in the Framework, which is not defined and could be considered to be ambiguous.
The most recent attack is, however, over concerns about the new policy that creates a default answer of "yes" to development. The Commons communities and local government committee's Labour Chairman, Clive Betts, said the Framework must be rewritten, stating, "The way the framework is drafted currently gives the impression that greater emphasis should be given in planning decisions to economic growth." He added, "As currently drafted the default "yes" to development also carries the risk of the planning system being used to implement unsustainable development."
However, the Planning Minister Greg Clark said that most MPs support the main points of the plans, but, "What they felt is there are some ambiguities and have suggested some changes. I have invited them to advise me and so of course I'm going to take their advice very seriously."
Too many n-ice days for outdoor rinks
Published: 20 Dec 2011
Alongside the twinkling Christmas lights and enormous tree, outdoor ice rinks have become part and parcel of many UK cities' Christmas scene. However, the unseasonable warm weather may leave many cities out in the cold, with fears that ice rinks will be replaced by piles of slush.
Mark Nelson, who runs the ice rink at Somerset House in central London, says that 6C is the optimum temperature. Any warmer, and increasing amounts of energy are required to maintain the ice. Any lower and "little, if any" energy is used, with "zero consumption" being reached at 1C. Once the air temperature falls below zero, natural icing produces a "harder" ice.
"On average, the ice rink requires energy for 50% of the time," said a Somerset House spokeswoman. "The ice is made of purified water, which ensures that it is frozen more quickly and is more resistant to melting." A computer monitors the quality and temperature, avoiding any needless refrigeration. This saves both energy for the environment, as well as money for the operator's budget. In 2007, Salford city council said it spent £10,000 on electricity running its 200-square-metre Winter Wonderland rink.
However, there is no fear of a wash-out at the outdoor ice rink in Lytham Square, Blackpool, where synthetic ice is used, which is a melt-free alternative. Although synthetic ice receives criticism, Professional ice-skater Natalia Pestova insisted that the high-density plastic panels that can be locked together like a jigsaw are just as good as the real thing.
Guide to thy perfect light
Published: 19 Dec 2011
Fire chiefs have this month issued a warning over the safe use of Christmas lights.
Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service has said that people need to be careful with festive lighting for both indoor and outdoor use. Peter Hope, their community safety advisor commented, "We know that many people will be turning their thoughts to Christmas and we want to make sure that safety is high on their agenda as they unpack their lights and decorations from last year, or plan to buy some new ones. In recent years we've seen a dramatic rise in the number of people using lights to decorate the outside of their homes and gardens for Christmas and we want to make sure they are not putting themselves, their families or their homes at risk by doing so."
He also urged everyone to be vigilant and follow some basic safety guidelines when using fairy lights and other illuminated decorations over the festive period. In particular, you should:
- check Christmas lights conform to British Standards guidelines, or have the European CE safety mark;
- check each set of lights, old or new, for broken or cracked sockets, frayed or bare wire or any loose connections;
- make sure the lights are switched off at the mains before inserting or removing bulbs;
- only use the correct bulb for that particular set of lights;
- always use a residual current device (RCD) on outdoor electrical equipment;
- take care not to overload electrical sockets;
- not let bulbs come into contact with anything that might burn easily (such as wrapping paper);
- only use lights designed for external use outside;
- fasten outdoor lights securely to trees, walls and fences, out of the reach of young children;
- always turn off Christmas lights when leaving the house or when you go to bed;
- double check your smoke alarms are working as you put up your Christmas lights.
... and a partridge in a replanted tree
Published: 19 Dec 2011
From mountains of Christmas cards to Christmas trees that have served their purpose, there are ways to recycle your waste this Christmas.
There appears to be much focus this year on ensuring that wood use over the festive period becomes more sustainable in a bid to help the environment over a very demanding time on the natural resource. For example, different sources are encouraging those who buy a natural tree to pot it, and then find a place in your garden to replant it after Christmas. This means the tree can be used again the next year.
In addition, thanks to a partnership between the Woodland Trust and Marks and Spencer, you can recycle all of your Christmas cards. For the past 14 years, the Woodland Trust has recycled 700 million old Christmas cards and the money raised has helped the Trust to plant over 200,000 trees.
M&S stores around the country will be continuing to help the good work the Woodland Trust started by collecting your Christmas cards once the festive period is over. They aim to collect 9 million cards by 31 January 2012, and the Woodland Trust have pledged that for every 1,000 cards collected, a new tree will be planted. If M&S reach their target, 9,000 trees will be planted!
To make the process even more interactive, you can click the following link http://cedr.ec/1r to visit the M&S website and vote where in the country you would like more trees to be planted.