Thursday, 6 January 2011

All wrapped up and nowhere to go - the factoid that went slightly pear-shaped

Factoid No. 2 on our Facebook site went down a treat on Christmas Eve...not.

No likes, no nothing. Right through Christmas a little voice inside my head was saying ‘told you so’. Totally irrelevant and completely off message – who in their right mind needs to know about why it might be a good idea to eat breakfast on Christmas Day. It’s Christmas Day for heaven’s sake, don’t go all healthy-eating on me now. It happens once a year and it’s probably the only day when we can eat as much as we want without feeling really guilty. And in any case, why on earth I am banging on about it? We’re onfriday not onadiet and we’re passionate about the ethical things in life. We also love chocolate. Get your focus back Ali. Factoid No. 2 you’re fired.

The truth is things didn't really go to plan. Part of my Facebook ‘strategy’ (yes there is one, just) is to post a stunningly interesting factoid on to onfriday's Facebook page every Friday, without fail. However in the week leading up to Christmas I’d completely lost track of the days – Friday had sprung up from nowhere and I hadn’t given it any thought. By 10am I'd managed to get some thoughts together and had a pretty good idea what I wanted to post, however some last minute research on Google blew my factoid out of the water – what I was about to post was fundamentally flawed. Hence a last minute re-think and a pretty pointless, somewhat pious post. Sorry folks it won't happen again.

My gem of a factoid was going to be all about wrapping paper...bear with me, it gets better. Each Christmas in the UK as much as 83km² of the stuff ends up in our rubbish bins, enough to cover an area slightly larger than Guernsey. That much is true. I was then going to follow that up with a little nudge for us all to think about recycling it. And that's where I messed up. It's not as straight forward as that.

Apparently most wrapping paper isn't the right type of paper for recycling. It's often coated with plastic or foil which makes it impossible to recycle. And paper that still has sticky tape, ribbons, bows and tags on can actually damage recycling machines. Some wrapping paper is very thin and doesn't contain sufficient good quality fibres to make it worth recycling. This year many Local Authorities were warning residents not to recycle their wrapping paper, threatening verbal warnings or even £1000 fines for 'persistent offenders' whatever they may be. Some even deployed 'bin bobbies' to rummage through recycling bins to stop it from happening. Phew, I’m glad I didn’t post the factoid after all.

I don't know about you but I'm totally confused. Some wrapping paper is ‘good’, some isn’t so ‘good’. How do we differentiate? What is recyclable, what isn't? Can we, can't we? I want to recycle and do my bit but sometimes too many ifs and buts leads to one thing – we don't bother doing anything.

However, I have made my mind up about one thing though. I won't spontaneously pick up the 3 for 2 wrapping paper placed strategically at the tills next Christmas without a careful inspection of the label. And with a little more forethought on my part there is no reason why I can't find wrapping paper that is both recycled and recyclable. At least I have the next 12 months to find some that is, so there really is no excuse...

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