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  1. Waste warning for bonfire night blaze haze hazard

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    Using your Guy Fawkes bonfire as an opportunity to burn unwanted old furniture or household waste could really spoil the party, from a haze of risky fumes to the hazard of explosions.

    Setting light to rubber, foam or plastic rubbish causes pollution, while burning glass, cans or aerosols risks explosions.  Never put treated wooden furniture, such as old sofas, onto the fire as the paints and preservatives will release noxious or irritating fumes that can harm human and animal health.

    If you are planning a bonfire and sure it will be safe and not create a nuisance or health risk, the ideal materials to burn are untreated wood, dry branches and garden wastes, including leaves.  You can also burn cardboard boxes and paper wastes.  Avoid putting on wet garden materials on the fire as these will give off more smoke.

    Very smoky or polluting fires, or those that may spread, can attract the attention of the police, fire service or local council.

    As with barbecues, if you plan to dispose of embers in your rubbish, ensure they are completely cool or fully damped down to avoid further fire risks in bins, vehicles or on landfill sites.

    Once your bonfire party has finished, soak fully spent fireworks in water and then they can be disposed of in your general refuse or taken to a recycling site to be put in the general waste.

    Misfired or partly spent fireworks must be soaked in a container of water overnight, until properly sodden, and the manufacturer or supplier should be contacted for guidance on disposal.

    For firework safety advice, visit the Devon and Somerset Fire & Rescue Service or RoSPA Safer Fireworks websites, so you can stay safe and have a fun and environmentally friendly bonfire night celebration.

    If you have unwanted furniture, there are a number of alternatives to burning them.

    Furniture and appliance that are still in good condition can be given a new lease of life by being donated to one of the furniture reuse groups around the county.  Unwanted items are often collected for free and the sale of these items supports local families struggling on low incomes.

    Another option may be to join a local free exchange group such as Freegle or Freecycle or you can sell your unwanted items via free ads or on-line auction sites.

    Alternatively you can take damaged or unsalable furniture items to your local recycling site for disposal or these can be collected for a fee by Somerset Waste Partnership via the bulky waste collection service.  For prices and booking information, click here.

    Do not use your bonfire to burn household refuse.  If you require additional recycling containers, click here to order them free of charge, or contact your district council if you need a replacement refuse bin. This may be subject to a replacement fee.

    As the burning of wet garden wastes also contributes to poor air quality, the best solution is to compost organic waste at home.

    You can purchase competitively priced compost bin and equipment via our composting offer, with 220 litre bins available from £17.98, with a buy one get one half price offer.  For more information, click here.

    If you have a lot of garden waste, you can subscribe to the garden waste collection service via your local district council.

    PS: Bonfire Night is great for using up food leftovers in snacks, from the fillings for baked potatoes to the extras in anything-goes hotdogs. Check out more ideas on ways to save with food.

  2. Tricks and treats for your fun-filled family fear-fest

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    Halloween on 31 October is upon us; that festival of ghosts, ghouls and horrible increases in waste.

    Simple tricks and treats, from great food to home-made costume capers, can ensure your family-friendly-fear-fest is a chance to enjoy saving money, materials and time, and will not leave your wheelie bin trembling at your wasteful ways.

    To reduce your waste this year, get the whole family involved, from carving the pumpkin and creating a superfoods supper with the scooped-out remains through to making spooky waste-free costumes and gruesome but “green” decorations.

    Avoid one-use supermarket plastic products to cut waste, and get creative, have fun and save cash by exploring charity shop ideas and stuff already around the house.

    Why not:

    • Save the seeds and flesh of your carved pumpkins so you can create superfood meals and snacks.

    • Dodge dodgy supermarket costumes and props for charity shop discoveries that can even be re-donated.

    • Get crafty with items and materials already around your house to make super spooky decorations.

    • Keep anything recyclable – ghostly bedsheets to party cans and bottles – out of the rubbish bin.

    • Allow expiring pumpkins to live again by composting the remains or adding them to the food waste bin.

    A large number of pumpkins are purchased specifically to make Jack O’Lanterns and then the flesh and shell are discarded without a thought.

    Plenty of pumpkin-based recipes for soups and stews are available in cookbooks and on the internet to spice up the flesh from large “carving” pumpkins.

    And make your own superfood treat by saving the seeds – rich in phytosterols and zinc – to be simmered and roasted for home-made nibbles and lunch-box snacks.

    For fantastic advice on how to make the most of the flesh and the seeds, visit Hubbub, which can also help with chutney, ideal as a home-made festive gift.

    More recipe ideas and food storage hints can be found at Love Food Hate Waste.

    After its work is done, give your pumpkin a second life by adding it to your compost bin to turn it into free soil conditioner for your garden.

    If you do not compost at home, put the shell (without candle) into your food waste bin to go to Somerset’s anaerobic digester to become electricity and farm compost.

    If you have been inspired and want to save a few pounds, you may also want to try your hand at growing your own pumpkin for next year.

    Why not have a family or neighbourly competition to grow the biggest, heaviest of even the ugliest. Take a look at this advice on the various types you can try to grow.

    Challenge yourself to make spooky reusable or recycled decorations to give your home or garden that Halloween touch.  Activity Village is a great site to visit for craft ideas for all ages and abilities from everyday household waste items.

    When it comes to Halloween costume ideas, many fantastic ideas can be found on the internet, such as on Pinterest pages.

    To be fearfully wonderful not frightfully wasteful, try to make costumes from materials and props you already have around the house, or from charity shops or scrapstores.

    This saves buying new things that are discarded after one night. If you are not crafty, why not club together with friends or family to swap shop-bought costumes.

    Then they can rise like a phoenix next year rather than being condemned to a zombie’s fate of landfill burial.

    PS: Bonfire Night is just days away, so ensure any Halloween food leftovers get saved for your fireworks feast. More ideas for food savings here, and the advice on cool solutions in fridge or freezer.

  3. Free one-day course on offer to find Food Champions

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    Are you keen to meet new people in your community or develop your skills and confidence helping others? If so, do not miss this autumn’s training opportunities to join our volunteer Food Champions with a one-day course this coming weekend.

    Somerset’s Food Champions scheme is expanding its network of volunteers who help local residents save money by wasting less food with a free training session on Saturday 12 November.

    On average, UK families each throw away the equivalent of one in six meals  so Somerset Food Champions can play a vital part in helping their community reduce their food waste.

    You do not need to be a food or cooking expert to be a Food Champion, just keen to waste less, recycle more, save cash – and help others to do the same.

    We can show you easy ways to save money and cut food waste, so you can pass on those ideas to friends, neighbours and others in ways that suit you. You do not need to be an expert, just keen to help others waste less, recycle more and save cash.

    The next Food Champions training opportunity is on Saturday 12 November in Shepton Mallet, 10am-4pm, at The Committee Room, Mendip District Council.

    Food Champions have access to a range of resources and display materials to help them bring the message to life and the scheme offers reasonable travel expenses to help our volunteers reach out into their Somerset communities.

    Click here to find out more and book a place.

     

  4. Positive start for new recycling sites measures

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    Efforts to cut congestion at Somerset’s 16 recycling sites have seen a positive first day with lighter than usual traffic as hundreds of customers arrived with their official permits.

    New measures aim to reduce queues, exclude out-of-county visitors, tackle illegal commercial users, improve services, maintain efficiency and enhance safety.

    As well as excluding large, heavily laden and hard-to-manoeuvre vehicles, the changes mean most vans, pick-ups and car-towed trailers need a permit available only to Somerset residents.

    With 10,000 applications for permits logged as the new measures started at 8am today, the scheme is already proving its worth by excluding thousands of out-of-county “waste tourists”.

    Today saw fewer vans and pick-ups than usual at many sites, allowing the vast majority of Somerset residents – who use their cars without trailers – a swift, smooth and safe visit.

    Helpful site staff provided one-use passes to those who had forgotten their permits or had not heard about the scheme via newspaper adverts, recycling site leaflets or online publicity

    And customers are being advised that while permits take 10 working days to arrive, applications take just a minute and an email confirmation provides an instant temporary pass.

    For more details of the new measures and which vehicles and trailers are affected, visit: www.somersetwaste.gov.uk