New life from dead Christmas trees

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Christmas is over. The annual festival of plenty officially ends tonight, the twelfth night of seasonal excess. Routine is supposed to return, pagan decorations adorning trees are traditionally hidden away till next December. But what of the after-effects of the epidemic of festive consumerism?

With more booze drunk, more items wrapped, more food consumed, the season of more is now being followed by the season of clearing up. Just as the word Christmas is traditionally put in front of anything for sale in December, the routine recycling of Christmas waste in January is already developing its own traditions.

The Corporation of London has its own established Christmas seasonal recycling tradition. Following its success last year, the corporation yesterday began shredding the trees that have been worshipped in living- rooms throughout London.

In a while-you-wait service at Highgate Woods, a north London beauty spot, the corporation's woodsmen shred your tree into usable wood mulch. You can take the stuff away and treat your garden to a post-freeze treat or donate your recycled trees to benefit the forest-floor eco-system of Highgate Wood itself.

Although 'tis now the season to recycle, the season of giving has not been altogether forgotten by the corporation. While not the gold, frankincense or myrrh class of the gifts of the Magi, members of the public are being allowed "to take home supplies of the mulch - irrespective of whether they have brought a tree or not."

With the Highgate scheme being repeated in other parts of the country to deal with the millions of Christmas trees that usually find their way on to council rubbish tips, tree shredding could now become as much a part of Christmas as recycling old Morecambe and Wise programmes.

The season to recycle also includes cards. Once bought, written, enveloped, sent, opened, and displayed, the creeping tradition is now to recycle. This does not mean scoring out greetings and sending the card to a new address next year. Instead, two of Britain's high- street names, the Post Office and Boots, are providing collection points on their premises during the Christmas recycling season, which they are extending into February.

This year more than two billion items were sent through the mail in the four weeks running up to 25 December. The tonnage used to find its way into landfill sites. But no longer. Boots and the Post Office have joined with recycling companies to turn them into usable packaging material, with the money raised going to the 12 English community forests, the Woodlands Trust in Scotland and the British Conservation Trust for Volunteers in Wales and Northern Ireland.

And this weekend the bottle banks are bursting as the nations drops its festive empties into the appropriate clear, green or brown bins - a ritual that is becoming as much a part of the household routine as the supermarket trip to buy them in the first place.

Wastewatch, the nationwide organisation which monitors and encourages the growth of the recycling industry, is pleased at the possibility that post-festive recycling is now emerging as part of the end of the solstice frenzy.

A spokeswoman from the organisation said: "On radio this weekend we had a programme devoted to the author Fay Weldon taking all her festive rubbish to the Jamestown Road recycling centre in Camden in London.

"This is one of the oldest and more established recycling centres in Britain. It's accessible by public transport and heavily used."

For Wastewatch it was encouraging to see the idea of festive recycling being noteworthy. "The Camden centre now does no more than all the bottle banks, and paper banks and clothing banks that we see all round the country. But after Christmas we are now seeing these places being used more than ever before."

Comments