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Ways To Reduce Plastic Usage

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Plastic is everywhere – quite literally and not for any good reason. Every day it seems we’re being bombarded with images of plastic strewn all over our beaches and oceans. All this despite the fact that efforts to recycle are higher than ever before with many UK households having plastic recycling bins and collections as standard.
Quite why this is happening we’re told is down to the type of plastic itself. In the UK we don’t have the technology or enough of it in order to recycle particular types of plastic on a large scale. So regardless of our efforts to recycle we are still falling short and our plastics aren’t quite being recycled and repurposed as we had imagined.
Whilst pressure is being put on manufacturers to provide packaging that could be recycled, so too is pressure being laid at the door of consumers to find alternatives to using plastics. In some cases this may be unavoidable in the current landscape but there are ways to cut down on plastic consumption which we will discuss here:
Refuse plastic straws and plastic cutlery: Using a straw for drinks might be second nature. However switching to paper straws or just not using one altogether could be much better for the environment. Taking your own cutlery might be harder to remember but could be well worth doing.
Take a reusable cup: Hot drinks cups have come under fire most recently with a so called 25p coffee tax being considered in parliament in order to try and cut down on this waste. Taking a reusable cup with you could be an easy way around this big waste problem, especially when considering 2.5 billion cups are thrown away in the UK each year.
Remember your reusable carrier bag: The 5p tax on carrier bags has been introduced already with an estimated 85% drop in usage. Carrying a bag with you at all times could prevent being caught out.
Get milk delivered: It might seem like a thing of the past but using a glass bottle delivery and re-use service could cut down on plastic bottle consumption.
Reduce plastic packaging purchases: It might be harder to avoid but using less packaging could reduce plastic consumption. Buying loose fruit and vegetables and avoiding or substituting products that are heavily packaged in plastic could be a good alternative.


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.


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.


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.


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.


National Zero Waste Week Encourages Waste Management Evaluation

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waste week

The 5th-9th September signals the start of National Zero Waste Week in the UK which gives individuals and businesses to reflect on the way that they personally manage waste and ways they could do better.

The campaign began in 2008 with the purpose of helping raise awareness about the volume of waste sent to landfill as well as helping people save money and resources by evaluating the things they throw away. By signing up for Zero Waste week, both commercial and individual consumers can receive updates and practical tips on how best to handle their own waste requirements.

Here we examine waste problems that people face and ways to reduce them:
•Contaminating recycling – most UK councils have introduced recycling collections however it is reported that up to a fifth of ‘recycled’ waste has to be incinerated or sent to landfill due to it being contaminated. When people place incorrect or unsuitable items in recycling bins it costs a huge amount to resort appropriately. Getting educated about what can be recycled and where could help reduce this problem.
•Fly tipping – despite recent changes to the law enabling councils to have greater powers for detection and prosecution of fly tippers it is still a problem. People should ensure that they work with a reputable company that is legally entitled to remove waste and dispose of it responsibly. It is to be expected that excess waste will occur from time to time but it is the responsibility of the business or individual to ensure it is collected and removed within the law. A waste carrier’s license is required by all approved waste companies for commercial and domestic waste.
•Wasteful practices – both businesses and individuals are guilty of wasteful practices. Some businesses strive to be more sustainable and set targets for this and there is no reason why others can’t do the same. By evaluating what is spent compared to what is thrown away could easily identify areas where savings count be made. Cutting down on waste could save money and is of course beneficial to all, including the environment.


Business as usual for Movers

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Despite predictions that the housing market would slump in the wake of the Brexit vote, estate agents locally are reporting that the reality is quite different. St Albans based firm Leaders has reported a boost in viewings for properties in the area with agreed sales and exchanges all going through as planned. They have also reported that the levels of expected sales remain the same with little or no sales falling through as a result of the decision to leave the EU.

Early indications seem to be that people for the most part just want to get on with business, whether as a vendor or a purchaser and whilst things may have been a little stagnant before the vote people now want to get moving – literally!

All this is good news for the local industry as there were concerns initially that people may stay put. Understandably some were waiting for the outcome before making any big decisions about their futures but now people want to make the best of the situation.

This local news seems to support the recent report from the Office of National Statistics showing that the UK economy grew in the months April to June by 0.6%. Their opinion was that the impact of Brexit was ‘limited’ and again supports the view that things may not be as bad as some expected thus far.

Property resilience in Hertfordshire is not only good for the local economy but it’s also good for wider businesses that support movers locally too. There is also plenty of new housing and developments for buyers to choose from in Hertfordshire and the surrounding areas to help bring people to the area as well as move within it.

Counties surrounding London were already doing well in terms of property so the news that this is likely to continue to grow is welcome. What the area boasts is that although property prices have increased in recent years there is a buoyant market for all kinds of buyers including first time buyers. With central London itself largely pricing people out of the market for home buying it is positive news that the commuter areas are driving growth and offering opportunities for all.

Despite the negative connotations that Brexit has given in recent weeks it seems that local people are determined to make the best of it. Key to navigating future rocky waters could well lie in the success of local economies, particularly in relation to property. Staying positive and seeing the best that the local counties have to offer is essential in maintaining momentum gained prior to the vote. It is encouraging to note that the impact at this point is considerably less than predicted.


How to ensure waste is being removed legally

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Getting rid of waste is a problem that many households face. Even with an increased number of bins for recycling in most UK homes and frequent bin collections there are still times when people have more waste than they can get rid of easily.

If a home has excess waste that needs removing then hiring just anyone to take it away could now be a risky strategy – householders now have a legal as well as moral responsibility to ensure that any waste from their property is taken by a licensed professional.

New rules introduced in May this year mean that local councils now have more powers to deal with fly tipping and anyone dumping rubbish. As well as being unsightly, waste dumped at the side of the road or anywhere else poses a risk of vermin and other health and environmental implications that could be easily avoided by working with a professional waste removal company.

Figures produced by the Government show that fly tipping has been on the increase with around 900,000 dealings with illegal dumping recorded in 2014/2015. Some people are completely unaware that they are hiring a cowboy waste removal company but with methods of tracking the original waste down more available, and punishments more severe it is worth going the extra mile to ensure that any company is licensed to work in the area.

To ensure a company is legal to remove waste then request to see their waste carriers’ license which have been required since 1st April 2016. These are now required by anyone dealing with waste, whether commercial or domestic and could prevent against any unpleasant consequences further down the line of not checking.

Any reputable firm will be able to offer advice on the type of waste that needs to be removed. In many cases some waste can be recycled such as scrap metal or plastic and again the nature of the removal can be discussed in more detail with a licensed company.

With greater risks involved it is worth making sure that any waste is dealt with legally and responsibly.


Tips on cutting out Christmas waste

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This time of year is generally all about preparation for Christmas festivities and planning, gift buying and food. What isn’t often prepared for is the waste that comes after Christmas and more importantly what we do with it.

You might not have appreciated that around 30% more waste is produced during Christmas, which equates to an extra 3 million tonnes of waste just for a couple of days of celebrations! Generally speaking each household in the UK produces 3% more waste year on year which might not seem like a great deal but could mean that our waste production doubles every 25 years or so. So you can see why it could be worth taking time out of your hectic festive countdown to think of ways to reduce waste this Christmas – here is some food for thought:

– Food waste – by far the biggest factor for waste over Christmas is the amount of food we buy and subsequently throw away. Planning the amount of food you’re going to need more accurately instead of just buying randomly off the shelf could mean less wastage overall. Making extra meals from leftovers and freezing items to use at a later date could also mean that less food is wasted this Christmas. Consider donating to a food bank any unwanted food gifts rather than leaving them in your cupboard or fridge to go off or be thrown away another time.

– Christmas trees – It’s likely there’ll be over 8 million trees purchased this Christmas. Buying a tree with roots makes it replantable in your garden once Christmas is over. Alternatively look out for your local tree recycling service that could use your tree for agricultural composting.

– Wrapping paper and cards – Around 8000 tonnes of wrapping paper could be used this Christmas along with millions of cards exchanged or sent. Look for local recycling methods or buy recycled or recyclable products to reduce the impact on the environment. You could even make your own cards to make them extra special and reduce waste.

Being with family and friends is most important to most over Christmas so consider this first and foremost before making purchases you might live to regret or know are likely to end up in the bin. Having a clearout of waste in the home prior to Christmas could also be a way of thinking more about the impact of waste. Donating to charity or contacting your local waste management company for ideas about how to recycle could all contribute to a more meaningful and less wasteful festive period.

 
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