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The True Cost of Christmas Waste

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When it comes to Christmas there is probably no other time when as much waste is generated. Lavish indulgence with additional food, Christmas trees, tree lights, cardboard, present packaging, toys, games consoles, wrapping paper and Christmas crackers all contribute to the waste the UK creates around the festive season. This list is not exhaustive either!
Figures in 2012 from Wrap (waste reduction advisory body for the UK government) it was estimated that Brits throw away the equivalent of 2 million turkeys, 300,000 tonnes of card packaging and 74 million mince pies each year. The sheer volume of waste is mind blowing with each UK householder spending £169 on food and wasting 30% more than normal, all at a time when bin collections are reduced and services even more stretched. The financial and environmental implications of all this excess is simply overwhelming with councils urging people to think more carefully about their purchases and what they recycle over the Christmas period to stop such a burden on waste services.
Here are some simple measures that might help:
Research waste provisions – it might not be normal to plan what you’re going to throw away before you’ve even consumed anything but knowing when bin collections are happening over Christmas and either cutting back or planning to recycle more may help. Find out where local recycling centres are to do a drop yourself or engage with private waste removal services who may offer additional services over Christmas and New Year.
Go easy – sure it’s Christmas but the waste generated is both phenomenal and unnecessary. Simple things like planning a food shop in advance, using frozen food where practical to avoid fresh food going unused or perishing. Online meal planners and party planners might help to hone in on the things you really need rather than overstocking.
Buy gift experiences rather than tangible items – finding the balance between having gifts to open on Christmas day and having nothing might seem tricky for some but actually buying a gift experience could create a more memorable and special gift for someone. There is always one person that is difficult to buy anything for so instead give them the gift of your time and take them out for dinner or a day trip to somewhere festive.


Fly tipping figures on the rise

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As councils find their budgets squeezed ever tighter many areas have found that services that were previously free now have a hefty charge attached. One such ‘luxury’ is in the area of waste where so called bulky collections now have a fee in order for the council to come out and collect and dispose of such items.
A bulky collection may consist of a single over size item such as furniture or white goods or it could simply be waste that doesn’t fit in the regular waste collection. The impact of charging is facing blame for the most part for the increase in fly tipping nationally. Recent Government figures published show that across England fly tipping rates have increased for the third year running. Only Nottingham City Council reported a 42% drop in fly tipping as one of the few remaining councils still offering free bulky collections.
Despite hefty fines for fly tipping reports suggest that only 0.2% (2135) of cases resulted in prosecution in 2016. All this despite a £50million bill for taxpayers to clean up the mess left by flytippers with items such as household waste, furniture, grass cuttings, tyres, car parts and fridges a regular feature on UK roadsides and laybys.
An alternative to council costs or illegal activity could be engaging with private services that may often give a more competitive service to householders or businesses when disposing of waste. Private companies may also be much more responsive when it comes to understanding the needs of people trying to remove waste from their property and could also offer related services such as skip hire or house clearances that could prove useful.
This alternative could be a welcome option as people begrudge “paying twice” for council services and are further incensed by imminent plans by many councils to introduce charges for garden bin collections. Despite the majority of householders totally opposed to garden waste charges some councils have already introduced the charge with more set to follow, setting a fee of circa £40 on top of their existing council tax charge each year.


Practical ways to reduce household waste

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With reduced bin collections, carrier bag charges and even talk in Scotland of money back schemes for recycling the war on waste is hotting up more than ever. With over 31 million tonnes of waste generated every year it is no surprise that councils and the Government have set targets to reduce waste.
Far from being solely the Government’s problem, waste generation is an issue for everyone and yet small changes could make a big difference. Reducing the waste a household produces and only outsourcing waste removal when absolutely necessary doesn’t necessarily mean overhauling a person’s lifestyle. Here are some quick wins to get started:
Only buy what you need
This might sound obvious but being surrounded by temptation and deals on everything can lead to people buying much more than they’ll ever need. Shopping for food and consumables only as they are needed could reduce food waste and overstocking of items that may not be used for years to come.
Buy products that last
They say that you buy cheap and you buy twice and this is definitely true in many cases. Buying quality items of clothing or investing in rechargeable batteries might seem initially expensive but could save on waste and cut down on products only being used once before being ready for the bin.
Make money from waste
Rather than binning items that are no longer needed it could be possible to donate unwanted clothing or bric a brac to charity. Alternatively car boots tend to run all year round in many areas so selling could also be an option.
Reduce junk mail
Contacting companies to cancel marketing mailings or opting for electronic mail sounds very small but the implications for production and delivery or materials could have a big impact as well as make extra space for paper bin collections.
Take your own bags
There might be something about a trip to the supermarket that instantly makes someone forget their huge stash of carrier bags at home but doing your utmost to remember to take your own bags for your weekly shop can now save you money as well as a plastic build up at home. Many supermarkets also have plastic bag recycling bins for anyone with an out of control supply.


UK House Prices Show First June Dip Since 2009

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June has traditionally been the month where the UK housing market really gains momentum. It is the time when those in the housing know expect a surge in properties going up for sale and likewise buyers seeking property. However, recent reports from Rightmove suggest a distinctly lacklustre month of inactivity and falling house prices to boot. Add to the mix that this June is the first since 2009 that house prices have fallen and it paints a very gloomy picture indeed.
According to industry experts uncertainty around the June general election is what may have stalled many into a wait and see approach to housing matters. The end result of course has done nothing much to improve things and put this together with continued uncertainty around Brexit and it leaves a rather large politically shaped hole in the UK housing market.
The June figures from Rightmove’s price index show that prices fell in June by 0.4% (between 14th May and 10th June). Their director Mike Shipside lays blame clearly at the door of the political landscape leading to low buyer confidence. Inflation is also having an impact as people struggle with rising household costs and static or diminishing wage packets. Tough times are both here and ahead for UK people.
Figures published earlier in June from the Land Registry showed the biggest increase in house prices since last October for April this year. This left the average UK house price at £220,000 – a £12,000 increase on the previous April. However, figures from last year were skewed due to the introduction of stamp duty on buy to let properties in March 2017 leading to a bumper March and dwindling April figures in 2016. On balance the year on year comparison could be seen as flawed by many.
What the future holds is anyone’s guess as political events continue to pan out. It could be that the housing market continues this stop start pattern for some time to come as buyers and sellers tread cautiously over what path to take in line with external factors.


Reducing waste could help navigate through bin collections

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Residents in Luton are almost 12 months into the experience of a reduced bin collection service. Since the start of last May the council adopted a four day service and made changes to bin collection days for many households in Luton. The timetable meant that there are no bin collections on Mondays and affected households had their day changed for their bin collection. In addition glass collections were also amended by changing to four weekly pick-ups rather than two weekly.
The change was reported to have the potential to save the council around £200,000 at year and also meant that disruption was reduced to those customers who were affected by having no collections on bank holidays. The council issued new calendars and conducted publicity to householders at the time. It is a strategy that has been adopted around the country as bin collections are reduced in order to save money and encourage greener ways from householders when disposing of waste.
Understandably some householders still struggle with Luton rubbish removal arrangements, particularly those in larger properties or households. However bin collection changes don’t necessarily need to be a hardship and a few changes could help to reduce overall waste problems such as:
Purchasing less: It stands to reason if people buy less they will have less waste. Food waste especially is a big contributor to rubbish removal in Luton and so planning a weekly shop in advance could reduce the amount of excess food purchased and avoid so much going to waste.
Outsource large waste projects: If a family is planning a reorganisation or a clearout they could use private waste services to remove the rubbish. Engaging with a private licensed firm could help to organise excess waste and avoid items that are unwanted both going into household waste and being stored at the property.
Recycle: Ensuring that a household is recycling as much as possible could have a reduction on household waste. Checking what waste can be recycled from council information could mean being able to use other bins for some waste. Recycling centres could also be used between rubbish removal Luton collections.


Recycling Easter Waste

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When it comes to holidays and waste it is Christmas that typically wins hands down on the excessive front. However with Easter typically falling in spring time it seems to naturally tie in to people’s spring cleaning schedule and has the potential to bring out one big waste headache for householders, businesses and local councils. Already squeezed refuse collection services have to make up time with two bank holidays to contend with and not only that but Easter egg waste alone produces 160 tonnes of aluminium foil waste and 4370 tonnes of card! In the UK each child will receive 8.8 eggs on average with sales overall of around 80 million. There’s no wonder that some families are looking for ways to cut down on Easter waste and make the holidays about spending quality time with each other instead.
Ways of reducing Easter waste could be to opt for experiences over gift giving and set money to spend on eggs aside to spend on getting out of the house or taking up a new hobby. Research has proven time and again that spending time together is much more valuable to families and children in particular than a multitude of gifts.
Spring cleaning over Easter brings about its own set of problems when bin collections are reduced and could mean extra trips to the recycling centres or refuse sites which are more likely to be busier. Hiring an outside waste removal company could be the ideal solution – particularly if planning a complete overhaul. Making green choices and donating or reusing our waste could make the biggest difference to waste at this time of year. Adopting a different approach to the way we get rid of our household rubbish could help us make our items last longer and reduce the impact on our surroundings.
If you simply can’t resist the lure of a chocolate egg then opting for more waste friendly options could be a solution. Eggs that use less packaging or recyclable packaging could cut down on waste considerably. Making the effort to purchase these kinds of chocolate treat could make a difference to the resulting waste at the end of the Easter period.


Methods of decluttering

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Spring has sprung and maybe your desire to declutter your home has too. However, to many people the prospect might seem a little too much to take in as we find ourselves surrounded by ‘stuff’ with no idea how to tame it or remove it.
Contrary to popular belief though decluttering is not simply about throwing ‘stuff’ away but about reorganising areas, rooms or the whole house if you’re feeling really brave. Here’s some ideas that might be worthy of further exploration for you and your family.
Four box method
This method unsurprisingly uses 4 boxes (we suggest fairly decent size ones). The boxes are then labelled Put away, Sell/Give away, Bin and Storage. The next step is to tackle an area or room at a time and decide which box all the items within it belong in. You might need to be ruthless or ask yourself questions about what you really need to keep. Sometimes it’s useful to think about the last time something was used or worn to give you an idea of what to do. Once you have filled the 4 boxes then you need to do exactly what each one says. Bin the rubbish, give away or sell items and assign homes to the rest by storage or displaying in your home. Tackling this all at once rather than waiting until you’re passing a charity shop or the tip means getting on top of the clutter quicker.
Box and pack away method
This adopts a similar start to the 4 box method but this time the boxes are only required to sift out items that are no longer used or you want to sort through to get rid of. Going around each room to remove all the unwanted things should leave extra space and clear surfaces. Dealing with the boxes then and there will help people feel free of clutter but some might choose to quarantine/store the boxes for a while just to make sure they really want rid. It’s probably a good idea to set a timescale on this so things don’t overstay their welcome.
Kon Mari method
This method has been introduced by author Marie Kondo and in a nutshell means you will only sort items by type rather than the area they are kept. It seeks to identify only the items that ‘spark joy’ in the owner and pretty much getting rid of everything else by giving away, selling or binning. It also includes different ways of shopping, storing and even folding things to help avoid needing a major declutter in the future.


The Realities of 4 Weekly Bin Collections

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Weekly bin collections have all but disappeared for UK residents and now the realities of recycling are very much part of waste routines in UK households. However, the recent introduction of 4 weekly bin collections is causing a kafuffle for some residents in Conwy.
The bin collections have been reduced in a bid to meet pressure from Government who wish to comply with EU targets which want to see a minimum of half of household waste recycled by 2020. Conwy is one of the first councils to introduce these measures with more due to follow in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Failure to comply with these targets by 2020 could see councils fined up to £500,000 a day.
Unfortunately, Conwy residents are finding the drop in collections a stretch and are forced to find alternative ways of getting rid of their rubbish such as burning or seeking help from neighbours. For families, the time between bin collections is too long and leaves them trying to find space in anywhere possible and increased time sorting all the rubbish into different bins. Taking the extra rubbish to waste recycling centres could be difficult for some residents who may not have transport or cannot access the centres conveniently.
The strict plans from councils show no signs of abating so the reality is that households may need to find ways of managing their household waste sooner rather than later.
The costs of disposing of waste in Conwy alone is said to be £2.9million each year with the 4 week collections expected to save around £558,000 a year. Conwy council states that recycling has increased by 15% in the early months of the trial so despite some misery from residents it could be a permanent roll out with the savings involved.
Managing household waste is really key in being able to maximise the bin collections in any area. Measures such as being mindful of what you are buying and trying to reuse and recycle as much waste as possible are big factors in not having excess waste. It could also be useful for householders to engage with local waste collection services to help with excess waste removal or bulk collections as they adapt to less frequent council collections.


Finding house clearance services when a loved one dies

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Nobody wants to spend much time thinking about what they would do if their loved ones die however there could be certain practicalities that are worthy of consideration. This may be especially true if the person that has died has left behind a property with contents included. Having a plan in place for what happens to their belongings once they die might be something that is discussed with close family whilst the relative or friend in question is still alive. This way they could let their family know which priority items they would like passed on rather than treating everything like waste. If it isn’t possible to be organised in this way it could be worth considering engaging the services of a house clearance company.
At such a difficult time it can be hard to know where to start when property is involved. There may even be the added stress of vacating a rental property in a timely manner. A house clearance firm might take away all the stress, focusing on the practical side of clearing the property promptly and yet sensitively. Finding a reputable and careful company that can fully cater for a person’s needs could really help them in a time of emotional distress.
Once someone has made the decision to use a professional company then it’s probably a good idea to ring around for various quotes. It might not be about getting the cheapest quote but being around the company that makes someone grieving feel at ease. Here the company should discuss the different aspects of their service as well as planning a convenient time to call to evaluate the task at hand. A house clearance company shouldn’t be pushy but should present options clearly and let the family make the approaches rather than come across forceful or as having a keen sales approach.
A house clearance company should be confident and yet compassionate to deal with upsetting circumstances. They should also be up front about costs and the likely return on any items of value. An honest and direct approach should leave the families of loved ones comfortable in engaging such services.


Is selling a home at Christmas a good strategy ?

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For many people the prospect of selling their home over Christmas is a horrendous idea. The thought of potential buyers coming for viewings or worse still getting a moving date over the festive season could fill many with dread! However, could Christmas actually be a great to sell and is there actually such a thing as a good and a bad time to put a property up for sale – here we explore the options available:
Less competition
Selling at Christmas might be very attractive for this reason alone – having less competition from other vendors because they are waiting until Spring could mean getting ahead of the game. It could also mean that whilst people are off work over the holiday season they are actually more likely to investigate potential property. Christmas tends to mean less people going abroad and even those that do usually schedule in some down time at home too so it could actually be the perfect time to get their attention.
More transparency
Whilst it may be possible to stall buyers over the festive season for the most part it probably isn’t a wise move to remove a property altogether from the market over Christmas should it have been listed earlier in the year. This might have been done in previous years to avoid the hassle of marketing over Dec/Jan period but house buying and selling can now be tracked online and so everything is much more transparent than pre online. There could also easily be a cost to listing and removing a property which vendors could well do without.
Be prepared
Being ready to sell over Christmas probably means that a person is well prepared for the move ahead. This could also signal to potential buyers that the vendor is serious about selling rather than just dipping their toe in the water. It also gives sellers ample opportunity to clear out unwanted items and rubbish from the property ensuring that it fit for viewing at any time. It could even reduce the cost of Christmas as people only spend money on the things they really need rather than overindulging.