Registering with your local freecycle group (www.freecycle.org) is a good way to get rid of unwanted items, rather than throwing them away. Or you could donate them to charity. In some charity shops, such as Sue Ryder and the Red Cross, you can sign a gift aid declaration form, which – if you are a taxpayer – increases the value of your donated goods. The shop will then keep you up to date with how much your goods have raised, which can give you a feel-good glow.
And if you prefer hard cash to a feel-good glow, you could always use ebay (www.ebay.co.uk) and pocket the profit!
Most councils offer a kerbside recycling service for paper, plastic, glass and tins. Separating your rubbish out and putting it into the correct bin is not at all time-consuming – yet, in the UK we still send lots of recyclable materials to landfill.
One of the worst things to put in the bin is kitchen waste such as fruit and vegetable peelings, teabags and eggshells. When sent to landfill food scraps produce methane – a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide – as it rots down.
Not only that, but rotting food in landfill sites also produces leachate. Leachate sounds nasty, and it is. It's a highly toxic liquid that needs years of collection and treatment to prevent it from becoming a hazardous waste and polluting ground water.
There are two ways to prevent kitchen waste from ending up in landfill. The first is to compost your scraps – and if you are a gardener, this makes perfect sense, as you end up with lots of rich, crumbly goodness for your veggie patch and flowerbeds.