Reverse Christmas excesses by recycling gifts

A youngster plays with building blocks
A youngster plays with building blocks
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THE wrapping paper has hidden any evidence of the carpet, boxes clog up every square inch of the room, and don’t even mention the array of dolls, cars, and furry animals.

Any household with young children will have witnessed such scenes of complete chaos on Christmas Day, as eager youngsters ripped through the abundance of presents gifted by well-meaning family and friends as parents looked on, helplessly.

While you can’t put a price on seeing a child’s face light up when they open their must-have gift, Christmas does come at a price – and not just one that has an effect on your bank balance.

Cards, wrapping paper and excessive packaging from toys and games all have a negative impact on the environment, prompting green groups to use the new year to encourage residents to take up an 
environmental challenge.

The Greener Together campaign has launched a new drive for 2014, producing weekly goals for those keen to improve their green credentials to achieve. Each month, the campaign will release four tips for people to follow in a bid to lead a greener lifestyle.

This month’s focus is on reversing the excesses of 
Christmas, with a stress on recycling items such as wrapping paper and donating unwanted gifts or items that have been replaced by new presents.

And with some households now resembling toy shops, what better time to take stock and recycle old favourites which have been superseded by this year’s must-haves? 
Edinburgh’s toy libraries are the perfect place to offload some pre-loved items, and the organisations are always keen to accept good quality donations.

However, those behind the libraries also want to urge more people to take advantage of the toys they have available so that they don’t have to buy everything for themselves.

There are six toy libraries in the Capital – including the Inch, Leith, Portobello and Gorgie – which all offer quality, educational, interactive and fun items which can be borrowed for around four weeks at a time.

Edinburgh’s toy libraries have a positive impact on the environment, preventing tons of landfill through less 
packaging waste.

One individual toy can be shared with up to 40 children over the course of a year, promoting a wide range of social benefits as well as environmental ones.

Lesley Fox, chief executive of Smart Play Network, says that toy libraries are for all families, and are not reserved for those living in deprived communities.

“Families should use their toy libraries as a means of not creating waste,” she explains. “Stirling University did some research into toys and play in the home. It found that one of the major stresses parents had about having children was the amount of stuff they accumulate.

“Some families were actually considering buying a bigger house so they could have a toy room for their children.

“What we are trying to get across to families is that they don’t need to buy all that. They don’t need to be wasting their money.”

This month’s tips as part of Greener Together’s 52 Ways to Go Green in 2014 are: recycle your glass, cardboard and paper; donate what you don’t need anymore; call the Home Energy Hotline on 0808 808 22825 for free advice on making your home cheaper to heat; and switch off electrical appliances instead of using standby.

All may seem like commonsense approaches, but the idea is to encourage small steps to make a huge difference.

“If everyone made an effort to make one green change each week, and continue momentum throughout the year, it will make a real difference to our environment and our climate change targets,” says Environment Secretary Richard 
Lochhead.

Visit www.greenerscotland.org for more information.