Friday, 3 September 2010
Recycling - is it always the best way?
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!
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).