home‎ > ‎

Do One More Thing

Week 9 - Nearly there!

posted Dec 21, 2013, 12:32 AM by Amanda Yorwerth

Nearly there – Santa’s sledge is packed and his elves are breathing a communal sigh of relief. If you’ve been following the waste saving tips you’ll be well on your way to a bin friendly Yule. So here’s just a few last minute reminders. 


 ·         Keep the recycling bins to hand – perhaps you could find a couple of card board boxes to use as easily accessible indoor recycling bins with big labels on so the system is clear to visitors. Take a look at the recently council leaflet explaining what goes into each recycling bin. If you have lots of guests staying, then would it be possible to position recycling bins around the house, if only to prevent you having the grim job of sorting through mixed bins later?

·         Food clear out: If you spend the days between now and Christmas making an effort to eat up leftovers, store cupboard odds and ends and those things that have been lurking in the freezer for a while then you’ll have lots of space for Christmas leftovers.

·         Be ready with the batteries: If you’ll be spending Christmas in a house where there will be children- or anyone else playing electronic games- then having fully charged rechargeable batteries at the ready will avoid disappointment.

·         Last minute cards and presents: If time runs short and you still have cards and presents to get to people, then the online charity options aren’t just low waste, but also low on lead in time. Try Oxfam unwrapped , WWF and Friends of the Earth

Week 8- It's all wrapped up!

posted Dec 13, 2013, 12:04 AM by Amanda Yorwerth

This is a really simple area to cut down on your waste; if you do one thing this Christmas to cut down on waste, tackle the wrapping.




·         Reduce the amount of wrapping you use by thinking laterally; use newspaper, pillow cases, scarfs, tea towels!  Make it a little competition in your family to come up with the best wrapping without buying paper and increase your chances of winning by making easy but effective gift bags out of newspaper.  It can still look beautiful, if you want some wow factor. 

·         Or buy wrapping you can reuse like gift bags, and don’t write on them or shut them with tape or staples. 

·         On the day, gather up big pieces of paper and keep them flat for wrapping a small present another day.

·         If you need to buy paper, then make sure you can recycle it; basically anything that’s not sparkly / metallic.  You can leave sellotape on; it is sorted in the recycling process.  

·         On Christmas Day, have different bin bags / boxes ready for (a) stuff you can reuse, (b) card & paper, (c) hard plastics, (d) plastic film, and finally (e) actual rubbish.  (Sigh, if only we had mixed recycling here in the St Albans.)  Separate the packaging immediately as presents are unwrapped, so you’re not left with a big job at the end of the day, when you’ve eaten too much pudding and lost the energy to do it! 


Please feel free to share this e-mail, and if you know anyone who would be interested in joining in the festive bin slimming fun then just drop us a line.




Week 7- Plan Ahead

posted Dec 8, 2013, 8:02 AM by Amanda Yorwerth   [ updated Dec 8, 2013, 8:03 AM ]

Just a little bit of planning and fore thought can make the world of difference to the size of your bin on Boxing Day.


·         We spend an average of £170 on our big Christmas food shop- and much of it is quickly transformed into rubbish. Love Food Hate Waste have lots of great tips to help you avoid the waste and expense- like start eating up things in the freezer now to make space for Christmas leftovers.

·         Working out how much food you should buy needn’t be guess work. Try this handy portion planner to ensure that there’s enough for everyone except the bin. Also, lots of you have said that once you have worked out what you need to buy, the secret is to prepare the all important shopping list and stick to it, ignoring all the tempting extras that abound in the supermarket.

·         Buying food and gifts from a local supplier often means you can choose to have much less packaging. Try the inaugural St.Albans Christmas Market  that’s around the Abbey until 21st December and support local producers whilst soaking up the lovely, festive atmosphere.

·         If you need to have some “just in case” gifts, then something like an Oxfam unwrapped gift has the advantage that there is all the benefit and no waste even if the gift is, ultimately, not required.

Christmas Trees

posted Nov 29, 2013, 3:53 AM by Amanda Yorwerth


When you stop to think about it, Christmas trees are a strange idea; why do we cut down a tree and put it in our living room as part of our celebration?  It’s estimated that each year, over 30 million Christmas trees are produced in America and over 50 million are produced in Europe.  And a week after Christmas, they are all heading for composting or (even worse) going in to landfill.  Buying a plastic tree isn’t the answer, although if you’ve already got one then obviously try and make it last.


So how do we keep the charm but cut down on the waste?


·         Buy a living tree:  Living trees last for many years if looked after.  You can bring your living tree in doors for Christmas and then put it in the garden for the rest of the year.  Remember to water them well when they are indoors, because the central heating will dry out the soil.  They are easy to find at Homebase, Notcutts, Ayletts, etc.


·         Think differently: Have a look at these alternativesSome of them are a little odd (Godzilla Christmas tree?!) but others are simple and beautiful, like finding a long branch, putting it in a vase and decorating it.  How about letting the kids decorate a cardboard tree?


·         Don’t buy new decorations: If you want a change, why not swap with a friend, or spend some time with family making some?  There are loads of websites dedicated to making decorations, like this and this, and the easiest of all are pretty dried orange slicesOr buy recycled decorations like theseIf you really need new lights, get solar ones.


·         After Christmas, if you have bought a tree, then make sure it is recycled by taking it to the local Household Waste Recycling Centre (“the tip”!).  Small ones can go in your green bin.  Some garden centres collect them, for a fee, like Ayletts.


Please feel free to share this e-mail, and if you know anyone who would be interested in joining in the festive bin slimming fun then just drop us a line.


Week 5- Christmas Cards

posted Nov 24, 2013, 11:37 AM by Amanda Yorwerth

Whilst charities do undoubtedly make money from selling Christmas cards, those same cards use up natural resources and turn into rubbish once the New Year hangover has worn off. Apart from that, there’s lots of crafty fun to be had from making your own, and with all those hundreds of cards, it’s lovely to stand out from the crowd.

 christmas home decoration


·         Send e-cards: There are so many lovely e-cards available now, and they do, of course, cut our resource use and waste almost completely. Whilst you’re likely to want to send some of the real thing, e-cards can be great for groups of friends- your book group, the PTA committee or your sports club friends, for example. Also, you can tie e-cards with a donation to your favourite charity and they’ll get all of the donation- unlike with the real things. If you’d like to support an environmental charity, then WWF and Friends of the Earth have some particularly lovely pictures to choose from.


·         Make your own cards: Use scraps to make your own cards. They needn’t be great works of art but are bound to be appreciated. You could spend a lovely evening with a member of your family or a group of neighbours making cards.


Buy recycled and recyclable, then recycle! So try to avoid cards with plastic stuff and heaps of glitter, which aren’t popular with the card recyclers. 

Festive Do One More Thing- Week 4- Presents for You

posted Nov 18, 2013, 9:34 AM by Amanda Yorwerth

We’ve looked at presents for other adults and for children, but what about presents for yourself?  You want Christmas to be special, but you want to be kind to the environment.  Perhaps people are starting to ask you for ideas, and you don’t want to offend anyone!  What you ask for (and importantly what you don’t ask for) might inspire others and make them think. 

 santa039s cap


Here are some things to consider;


  1. Don’t be afraid to be different.  Let people know if you think second-hand is just as good, or if you don’t want anything.  For people who really want to get you “something” you could suggest an Oxfam Unwrapped gift, a bottle of wine, or that they take you out for coffee.


  1. Think of something you’d like to do rather than something you’d like to own.  Perhaps they could get you a voucher for afternoon tea at Luton Hoo, or theatre tickets.  How about an art exhibition in London, or a voucher for Go Ape.  Why not write a list of ten things you’d love to do and ask friends & family to choose one and arrange for you to go together. 


  1. If there are things you want, try alternatives before you reach for Amazon One-Click. Did you know you can search Oxfam on-line now?  Use local, independent shops where you can. How about the Vintage Emporium?  Suggest eBay for used DVDs; people often only watch them once.  How about People Tree for fashion, or protecttheplanet for cool recycled homewares?  The most important thing really is to get things that will last and are well made, so that you are not buying the same thing again in a year.


  1. If what you love is a surprise, then just tell them that, but engage them in the Do One More Thing challenge.  “Surprise me with something small and lovely that has no packaging and that’s wrapped in a funny way without buying new paper!” and then trust your loved ones to enjoy the challenge too.


Hopefully, after all that thinking, there will be less polite smiling on Christmas Day and more genuine joy!


Festive Do One More Thing- Week 3- Presents for Children

posted Nov 18, 2013, 9:32 AM by Amanda Yorwerth

Of course Christmas is really about children, and their little faces are unlikely to light up when you tell them that Santa’s giving them a miss this year because he’s fallen out with the Waste Fairy!


So, how to have happy kids and a happy bin?

 children silhouette cheers


Here are some ideas…


·         Little children really could not care less where their present comes from- they’ve not learned what second hand is. There’s lots of second-hand-but-good-as-new stuff just waiting for a home on e-Bay, at the toy stall at the school Christmas fair or at Oxfam. Many of the books in the Oxfam Book Shop on Catherine Street really are so good that they look like new, and, of course, you’re supporting a great cause too.


·         For bigger children, you could discuss the advantages of second hand to them- £20 will buy a whole lot more pre-loved goodies than brand spanking new.


·         Older children may really appreciate the gift of an experience. Roller skating lessons? A voucher for a cookery workshop? Tickets to go up The Shard?


·         We talked about the gift of time for adults, but kids can really appreciate it too. A day in London visiting Tate Modern, a trip down the Thames on the ferry and whizz over the river on the Emirates Air Line would be inexpensive but a lovely day out with Mum or Dad all to yourself.


·         Of course there will be things that kids are keen to receive and will get a lot of use out of. If you are buying stuff it might be worth clubbing together with someone else so that you can spend a little more and give a quality, durable gift. Think too about energy and batteries. A large supply of rechargeable batteries are a must for some electronic games!




Festive Do One More Thing- Week 2- Presents for Grown Ups

posted Nov 18, 2013, 9:28 AM by Amanda Yorwerth

If you’re trying to make your Christmas a little lighter on the environment this year, then here are some tips for choosing presents.  You’re trying to avoid buying unnecessary and unwanted “things” just because you need to buy “something”.  It can take a little bit of planning ahead, so start noting down ideas now. 

 beautiful christmas design elements 117 hd picture


Here are some things to consider;


  1. Question the rules a little.  We all grew up with unspoken rules about Christmas, but you can think harder about them now.  Does everyone have to give everyone a gift?  Could you pick names from a hat and give one gift to one person?  Could you pool together to get one thing they really want instead of several little things?  Can you agree a “wishlist” system (like children’s letters to Santa) which everyone in the family is happy with, to avoid unwanted presents?  Can you agree that second-hand is just as good as new? (Try eBay, the online Oxfam Shop, or the Oxfam bookshop on Catherine Street?) 


  1. Give gifts of time and tickets to events rather than “things”.  Why not give babysitting vouchers to busy parents, or arrange to take your parents out for afternoon tea; buy your husband an experience day, or get your sister theatre tickets?  Think about something the two of you could enjoy doing together and offer to arrange it.  For many loved ones, the gift of spending time with you will give them far more pleasure than a new DVD or book. 


  1. Make something (you don’t need to be a craft expert).  There are hundreds of ideas on the web. For inspiration, try AllAboutYou or Pinterest. For edible gifts like chocolates, try BBCGoodFood (they rate the ideas by how easy they are!). If you want to be crafty but you’re just not, then why not book for you and a friend to go to LavenderBlue for a workshop?


  1. If you want to buy the something, try alternatives before you reach for Amazon One-Click.  How about trying the gift guide at the Ethical Superstore?   Or the Fairtrade Store?  Or one of many eco-friendly shops like MyEcoStore?  In town, try local shops like Raindrops on Roses and the craft shop on George Street. 


Festive Do One More Thing- Week 1- Let's do things differently

posted Nov 18, 2013, 9:25 AM by Amanda Yorwerth

Festive Do One More Thing - Make Xmas Wonderful Not Wasteful!


…And that’s the aim of this extension of Do One More Thing. You will recall that at the end of the film The Clean Bin Project hosted by Friends of the Earth and Transition St.Albans we were urged to take one more thing that’s not sustainable and make it sustainable. So that’s what we did each week through the summer, giving you waste cutting tips. However, Christmas has to be the biggest Waste-fest of them all, so, if we’re serious about cutting waste, we need to confront Christmas- hence our new programme, Festive Do One More Thing.


First of all- apologies. We know it’s only October, but supermarkets have already started the consumerist onslaught, so we’d better be at the ready.


In fact, if we want to make the change from a Christmas that’s all about stuff to a Christmas that’s about people we’ll need to start with some thinking and planning, so here goes…


                      beautiful christmas tree 6 hd picture


    1. Do Christmas differently: What is Christmas all about … have a think … what made your happiest Christmas?  Remember you can do things a little differently. Start a family tradition.
    2. Have a clear out: Stuff you have and don’t use might well make great presents for someone else, so have a clear out and give things to school Christmas fair/Freegle/eBay/Oxfam.
    3. Avoid unwanted gifts by thinking what you need: What do you & family members really need (if anything).  Granny will already be buying gifts, so (as asking for gifts yourself many not feel right) make sure someone else knows what you’d most appreciate.
    4. Planning a time to get together to make things … cards, mince-pies, gifts .. with friends, neighbours, your book group etc. Make Christmas the opportunity to get to know the people around you better.


Week 14: Back to School

posted Sep 7, 2013, 9:26 AM by Amanda Yorwerth

Last week we looked a reducing waste from pre-school children. This week we’re moving up an age group to school age children.


·         Involve children in recycling:  Even young children can learn what can and can’t be recycled. Get them to make picture labels for each recycling bin so that they can see what goes in each one

·         Second hand gifts: Give children the option of having the same amount of money spent on them but on second hand gifts so that the money goes further. Start early before second hand becomes un-cool.

·         Use second hand school clothing shops: this enables you to dress your children for less and often provides valuable funds for the school too. Second hand school uniform is particularly good as it never goes out of fashion! 

1-10 of 23