Did you know that the average Islington household produces 349kg of waste every year? That’s roughly the weight of a polar bear! About 30 percent of this gets reused, recycled or composted – and Islington Council’s committed team of volunteer recycling champions are working to improve that. We caught up with one of them, Caz Royds, to find out more about the scheme, why she’s passionate about recycling and to hear her top tips
“I don’t recall when I first became a champion,” says Caz, “but I’ve always been interested in waste and concerned about how we can reduce it.” The idea that kicked off her waste reduction journey is that “there is no such thing as ‘away’. When people throw something away, they often don’t seem to recognise that it doesn’t just disappear.”
The recycling champions programme aims to link-up like-minded individuals and equip them with information on how to reduce, reuse and recycle responsibly, which they’re encouraged to share with their neighbours, friends, family, and colleagues. As part of that role, Caz attends events run by the council, speaking to residents about the benefits of recycling, and makes sure that they’re supplied with the information and equipment they need.
“Volunteers like me are well placed to pass on key information about recycling with people in the borough,” she tells us. “I feel strongly that food waste is an issue we can all do something about, whether it’s how you shop, how you store your food, such as freezing leftovers and, above all else, composting your food waste.”
In the lead up to the festive period, Caz has a clear message: “Plastic spells disaster for our rivers – keep plastic out of your Christmas this year!” She has strong views on wrapping paper and cards, advising people to “avoid anything with glitter or shiny laminate that cannot be recycled. Try reusing wrapping paper, or wrapping presents in newspaper or in fabric that can be used year after year.”
On decorations, Caz suggests trying to make your own. “You can make lovely paper chains and can collect foliage to make your own biodegradable wreaths.” And on presents, “try giving people an experience instead of a ‘thing’. Go to the theatre, see a concert!” But her top tip, relevant all year-round, is that “the very best thing to do with waste is never to create it in the first place,” Caz advises. “We have a massive job to do in producing less waste, but we can all do our bit.”