Friday, 3 September 2010

Recycling - is it always the best way?

With a doodle like this one, I couldn't resist having a bit of rant about recycling!

I’m every bit as much in favour of recycling as anyone – I was a ‘war baby’ after all! I still have my ration book tucked away in a case of mementoes in the roofspace and as a child, most of my clothes and toys were ‘recycled’, some quite ingeniously. So I’m not great at throwing things away that ‘might come in handy’ and I have a strong aversion to ‘waste’ in any form. But I do take issue with all the different coloured bags and bins into which we have to deposit our various kinds of rubbish for recycling! Vehemently!

I wouldn’t mind all the extra time it takes to sort the rubbish, wash the plastics, tins and glass, not to mention, remembering which to put out for collection on which nights, if I really thought all the effort was worthwhile. But that is what I’m not at all convinced about.

First there are all the bags and boxes that we’ve been issued with, all of them plastic apart from the starch bags we can use to line the food waste box with. Red bags, purple bags and green bags; a black box, a blue box and a silver ‘kitchen caddy’ food waste box. I live on a corner with my front door in one road and my back gate in another and nobody’s realised that I’m not two houses so duplicates of all these appeared out of the blue. Here we have five different categories of rubbish but there are places in England where they have nine!

Then there’s the washing of the plastics, glass and tins. I normally use a dishwasher but most of the plastics wouldn’t stand the heat so I have to wash them by hand. For this I need hot water, which uses gas or electricity and obviously water as well, all of which we are being encouraged to use sparingly! Add to these the washing up liquid for the greasy containers and surely my carbon footprint is already beginning to grow? So I just do it all once a day to save wasting any more water, gas or washing up liquid than necessary.Which leaves me with a sink full of yogurt pots, pate containers and marmalade jars, half submerged in beige-coloured water for most of the day!

But having dutifully filled my red bag with paper and light cardboard, my purple bag with the plastics etc and the green bag with garden rubbish and shredded paper, and remembered to put them out in time for the kerbside collection, I realise that there is still the food waste to deal with! Now that is revolting! Being just the one of me and not given to wasting much food, it takes a long time for me to amass enough food waste to be worth putting out so it sits and rots in the starch bag, which then degenerates into its blue box – the thought of keeping it in my kitchen, in the caddy provided, is a step too far! – leaving me with a squelchy mess that needs more hot water and washing up liquid to clean...

But of course, it’s all worth it because the jolly fellows who collect our miscellaneous contributions in their cavernous van - which of course runs on petrol – will take it away to be recycled. Or do they? Rumour has it that our sorting and cleaning are in vain as it’s all mixed together in the bowels of the van! And I read in the local newspaper - so it must be true! - that whereas it was formerly all shipped down to Cardiff – more petrol! – it’s now taken all the way to Southampton, on the South coast of England!

But fear not, here comes the 'aha!' moment! All has become clear and I'm pretty sure that I've discovered the true purpose of this irritating recycling operation! I do believe that it's a cunning ploy to reduce the unemployment statistics by giving work to the binmen and the drivers, who might well otherwise be joining the dole queues! 

So that's all right then - our efforts are not in vain!

This doodle was sent to me by my daughter who lives in Sweden. She was chatting to her brother on the phone when it 'happened' and she thinks it's the result of there being an exhibition of Chinese Terracotta Soldiers in Stockholm at the moment. But I can't help wondering whether it's something to do with her memories of her brother's vast army of little, stiff-legged, plastic 'Action Force' figures that he used to line up in rows on his bedroom shelves as a child - and woe betide anyone who dared to move them in order to dust the shelves! Maybe it's a combination of the two?

I'd like to make a little collection of 'back of an envelope' doodles on this blog so if you have one or more to contribute, please email me through my blogger profile page. There are some wonderful doodles at 'doodlers anonymous' but don't let them put you off - the back of an envelope will be fine!

(By the way, I went over my 'recycling' doodle with a pen because the original pencil scribble was difficult to see when I scanned it).


Ulla Hennig said...

My experiences are a bit different:
We have yellow tons for plastic, blue tons for paper and grey tons for glass. All of them are in my backyard, and the only thing I have to do is get the items into the "right" tons. As far as I know there are different vans fetching those tons or emptying them.
There is one thing I am a bit angry about: when people put their paper stuff into a plastic bag and throw it into the paper ton. Well!
The system you are describing, Judy, really seems to be a bit odd!

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you for reminding me about your recycling system, Ulla. I remember it from when I stayed in a flat in Germany as far back as 1962! It seemed very sensible - but what happens if you live in a house? Does each person have their own containers for recycling?

Jean said...

In my area you have to carry the items to the county dump and throw them in the proper bin. I take cans to a recycle place just for them. They pay you according to the weight.

This post really made me laugh.:)

Country Mouse Studio said...

I agree with Jean, this was funny.

We have recycle pick up here every 2 weeks and the only requirement is that we put it all unsorted in a clear plastic bag, no glass and if we want to compost anything we have to do it ourselves.

It goes to a sorting center. We do get paid for bottles we bring in ourselves.

It's so interesting how different countries do some of these things.

Judy Adamson said...

Well, Jean and Carole, I'm amazed!!! You actually get PAID? And I'm paying for washing up liquid I wouldn't otherwise buy, and hot water too. It's not much, I know, but as a 'poor, starving artist', I'm allowed to complain....

Mateja said...

Great article, Judy! It's so interesting how recycling differs from country to country or even city. I am a bit of a green freak and recycling is very important to me. Here we have 4 big trash cans: for food waste, paper, glass and plastic. The sad this is people always say all this garbage gets picked by one truck and to this day I am still not sure. But I recycle and hope that I help Earth with it.