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Recycling and Cutting Waste in the Garden

Current UK recycling is estimated to save more than 18 million tonnes of C02 a year – the equivalent to taking 5 million cars off the road. When we recycle, recyclable materials are reprocessed into new products, and as a result the amount of rubbish sent to landfill sites reduces.

There are over 1,500 landfill sites in the UK, and in 2001, these sites produced a quarter of the UK’s emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Here’s some tips to reduce your waste at home, in the garden and workplace.

Think before you print

Every year a forest the size of Wales is used to supply the demand for paper in Britain."

Producing recycled paper also uses between 28 - 70% less energy consumption than virgin paper and uses less water. This is because most of the energy used in paper making is the pulping needed to turn wood into paper. Many products made from recycled paper are widely available including envelopes, tissues and notebooks.

Source: Change the World 9 to 5, We Are What We Do.

Stop junk mail

120 pieces of junk mail are sent to every year to every person in the UK – 72% of these people don’t want 50% of this mail! 70% of consumers find the amount of junk mail they receive annoying. Registering with the mail preference services will reduce the amount of unwanted mail and help reduce waste.

Don’t discard old furniture

Contact your local Furniture Re-use Network - they distribute unwanted furniture and household goods to those in need. Or advertise your old furniture using websites like or

Source: Recycle Now

Start a compost heap

The amount of waste recycled or composted in 2006 – 07 was 31% of household waste. However, millions of tonnes of garden waste, such as grass cuttings, prunings and leaves, are sent to landfill sites each year – in fact it equates to filling the Royal Albert Hall with grass, twigs and leaves more than 70 times over! Much of this can be composted to create a nutrient rich source of compost for your garden.


Use a push mower

Go manual - buy a push mower - swapping your petrol Lawn-mower for a manual can cut emissions by 36kg of CO2 every year - and knock £18 off your annual spend.


Use less packaging

Packaging accounts for 18 to 20% UK household waste. You can reduce this by making a few changes when you shop, for example, buy loose fruit and vegetables rather then heavily packaged ones, use refill packs when available, and buy loose eggs from the market or butcher and reuse your current egg box. Buying a large package will use less packaging then several small boxes and may even be cheaper.

Reusing shopping bags

Reuse shopping bags – the average adult uses 300 shopping bags every year. A “Bag for life” is an easy way to cut down on the number of bags you use. Around half of UK shoppers claim to have a bag for life however only 12% use them regularly.

Some supermarkets even give extra loyalty points for reusing bags.

Source: (

Buy recycled

Buying recycled products means less rubbish ends up in landfill sites and fewer valuable natural resources are used. Many recycled products are used and the most common is paper including toilet rolls, kitchen rolls, packaging, writing paper and envelopes. Products made from recycled products are clearly marked with the recycling logo.

Top Tips for Sustainable Living – In the Garden

Across the UK we have more than two million acres of gardens. Together many individual gardens form a valuable patchwork of habitats. These often link urban space with the countryside and allow wildlife to move around more freely. Make sure your garden is as wildlife friendly as possible by following these simple tips.

The Patter of Tiny feet

Many small animals such as mice and squirrels can be a problem in our homes, invading lofts, cellars and walls. Rather than using poison to get ride of them which can have a detrimental effect on wildlife, try and find an alternative method. Ultra sound barriers are available from many garden centres and these can deter foxes and cats. Some mammals like bats and badgers are protected so always seek advice from your local wildlife trust.

(Source: West Midlands Biodiversity Partnership)

Don’t let your cat be a killer!

British cats are responsible for over 275 million animal deaths each year. Mice and voles are their favourites, whilst birds account for about 20% of all animals caught by cats. Try fitting your cat with a cat bell or sonic collar, try keeping it in at night or planting prickly holly and climbers.

(Source: West Midlands Biodiversity Partnership)

Avoid chemical fertilisers

Avoid nitrogen rich fertilisers they require large amounts of fossil fuel to make and emit nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more powerful than CO2. Instead make your own compost from kitchen and garden waste. The compost heap will not only provide you with an excellent soil conditioner but will also be home to invertebrates and other animals, and is a rich feeding ground for birds and beetles.

(Source: BBC)

Provide food for birds!

Grow a mixture of native and non-native plants to provide nectar and pollen for bees and other insects. Choose plants that flower at different times of year to ensure that pollen and nectar are available over a long period. Select trees and shrubs with berries for birds and other animals. Berries will also make your garden look colourful.

(Source: Wild About Gardens)

Create a water feature in your garden

A pond or water feature, ideally without fish, will enable amphibians and dragonflies to breed. If a pond is not practical, a simple bird bath or pebble fountain will provide a place for animals to drink.

(Source: Wild About Gardens)

Delay cutting back perennials until the spring

The seed heads that remain provide valuable food for birds and other animals through the winter, while the stems and foliage provide valuable shelter for hibernating insects.

(Source: Wild About Gardens)

Think before you buy

Ensure that plants come from cultivated stock and that the use of any material, such as potting compost, does not put a habitat under threat, whether in the UK or abroad. Did you know that 94% of the UK’s lowland raised peat bogs, one of our rarest and most vulnerable habitats, have been lost. There are just 6000 hectares in pristine or near-natural condition left.

(Source: Wild About Gardens)

Don’t use plastic pots!

The plastic plant pot is the gardener's equivalent to the shopper’s plastic carrier bag. UK gardeners use 500 million plastic plant pots each year in the UK. The manufacture of virgin plastic uses significant amounts of fossil fuels.

Biodegradable pots, made from a range of materials such as coir, wood chips, rice husks, miscanthus or seaweed, are becoming increasingly popular. There several types available. One can be planted directly into the soil and breakdown within a few months. There are also more rigid ones made from rice husks and latex. There last up to three years and can be put on your compost heap to decompose.

(Source BBC Ethical Gardener)

Organise a plant swap!

Exchange cuttings with friends and neighbours and buy locally at plant fairs or garden centres and nurseries. If the plants are not labelled British or locally grown, ask where they have been raised.

(Source: Wild About Gardens)

Contact Details

  • Name Waste Care, Environmental Management
  • Address Directorate of the Urban Environment, Waste Care, Lister Road Depot, Lister Road, Dudley, West Midlands, DY2 8JW
  • Telephone 0300 555 2345