Those good folk at the Somerset Waste Partnership have been busy making changes to the arrangements for waste and recycling collection over Christmas. Here is their helpful guide to reducing, recycling and re-using.
The joyous celebrations of Christmas and New Year can also be occasions of cost and bulging rubbish bins, or a great chance to recycle much more, waste far less, save money and create a great family holiday.
Here is our full guide to the festive season, from the details of all waste services to easy hints and simple tips to get the best from food, gifts, decorations and the tree.
Changing days for collections
Kerbside collections are unchanged before Christmas, and all collections of all materials resume from Monday 9 January on their usual days.
From Monday 26 December to Friday 6 January, with garden waste services suspended, all other collections are one day later.
That includes a Monday pick-up on Tuesday 27 December and Friday pick-ups on Saturday 31 December and Saturday 7 January. Check here for more details.
Eat your freezer, love your leftovers
Food can be the big one, from a hefty price tag to a heavy load of waste, and those two factors are connected, as we throw away uneaten good food for lack of storage and clear still-crowded plates because we made far too much.
Buying good food and drink which is then thrown straight in the bin currently costs a typical household £470 a year, rising to nearly £700 for a family. Do not let it hit you in the pocket – especially at Christmas, an expensive time for all of us.
Focus on festive feasting with no waste. Involve the family to see how much you can save by only buying food that will get eaten. And check out the free and easy online advice and tools – see our festive food page – to plan meals and check portion sizes so you have all the sprouts, roast potatoes and turkey you need and no more.
Free up space for all that extra family food by eating into your fridge, freezer and cupboards ahead of Christmas.
Write a shopping list, and stick to it, as this will make sure you are not tempted to buy things you do not need. If you do pick up an extra item, check the date and storage guidance so you can plan them into your meals to ensure they get eaten.
For anything that is left over, get creative. Christmas can generate some delicious leftovers to be turned into tasty new dishes that can be eaten immediately or may be able to be frozen for later.
You would be amazed at how many foods you can freeze – check our list here. And you can freeze food right up until the use-by date, so if you have spotted something in the fridge that is just about to go over its date, you can extend its life by popping it in the freezer.
Got a lot (waste, that is)? Get it gone
Apart from the sheer volume of stuff sent to landfill in rubbish bins, the biggest Christmas problem is the "internet avalanche" of cardboard that disrupts collections by forcing trucks to stop work to unload card when space remains for everything else. Top tip: flatten boxes and cut up large sheets.
Rubbish bins lids must be closed with no extra waste outside. Card and any other excess refuse and recycling can, if you have space or time and transport, either be stored to add some each week or taken with other materials to recycling sites.
For more on what and how to recycle all you can through kerbside collections, check out our comprehensive guide.
Given all the extra rubbish and recycling that many people put out after Christmas, risking delayed or missed collections just as the weather gets worse, smart residents will want to clear any waste they can before the festive season, and make good use of recycling sites after Christmas and New Year to ensure they are not left with anything uncollected.
Check here for all the details of recycling sites, from opening hours to the list of what each site takes.
Xmas recycling sites and vehicle permits
Usual timetables apply to recycling sites, including closures on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.
As always, sort before you go, check opening times, any entry fees or material charges, and what is accepted – not all sites take the same – ask and take staff advice, and always stay safe.
Do not be surprised if your black sacks are opened to check for materials that should be recycled, not landfilled; that is one way recycling sites achieve their fantastic 76% average recycling rate (some are much higher), which saves materials and holds down waste costs.
The new measures to cut congestion, improve services and maintain safety at recycling sites, with vehicle permits and access times, apply as usual over the festive period. Van, pick-up and trailer permit holders can use open sites on any weekday and 1pm-4pm Saturdays (not Sundays or 8am-1pm Saturdays).
No free permit yet for your van, pick-up or trailer? Check the details and applyhere.
Gifts that last, gifts to treasure forever
For Christmas gifts, the key is to go low or no waste, from digital presents, such as online subscriptions or downloadable items, to experiences, tokens or e-books, and quality items that will both be treasured for years and worth repairing or passing on later. And look for gifts that are vintage, reused or made from recycled materials.
Tne key step is to ask for and prepare your own wish list to take the guesswork from Christmas and avoid unwanted gifts that end up in the bin.
If you do get a gift that you do not need, think first of all the options for reuse, from selling online to re-gifting it where it will be welcome, or donating it to charity, before considering recycling it.
Wind, rain, ice, snow – yes, it's winter
Severe weather can disrupt kerbside collections and recycling sites. Efforts will always be made to maintain services, if judged safe and subject to our severe weather collection principles.
If snow or ice prevents collections, crews will make a return pick-up as soon as possible when conditions improve; crews will work later and on weekends to catch up.
If your collection containers were out for 7am but missed due to severe weather, put out your containers by 7am for up to four calendar days for recycling, and up to seven calendar days for rubbish. If there is still no collection, take containers back in and put them out by 7am on the next usual collection day.
Please assist elderly or vulnerable neighbours during periods of severe weather and, where possible, clear snow and ice from pavements yourself,which helps pedestrians, kerbside collectors and your post person.
During severe weather, garden, bulky and clinical waste collection services may be suspended without notice to help maintain main services.
Bedeck the backdrop for a nifty Noel
When you get the lights and baubles for your home and Christmas tree out again each year, you are proving the benefit – in cost, in time, in materials – of reuse.
And there are lots of other ways to cut back on waste, such as by recycling last year's Christmas cards into gift tags, using items from around the home to make decorations, and getting creative for a glittering tree by hanging everything from pine cones to old keys and broken jewellery.
Mistletoe and other greenery offer the ultimate traditional look, cost little or nothing and can be composted later, so do deck your halls with boughs of holly and other garden displays.
Check back herefor updates to help your Christmas be low waste and low cost family fun, including all our advice on recycling everything from the cards and wrapping paper to your tree.