Thursday, November 09, 2006


I am always keen to do my bit for the environment but it is not always easy. Our local council have operated a duel collection system for quite a while. This means we have rubbish (garbage) and the recycling items collected alternating weeks. There has been much debate about this and whether it works as there are so many rules to remember...

Cans, tins, bottles and foil containers all have to be washed and separated in a plastic box. Shoes, provided they are tied and clothes/textiles as long as they are kept clean and dry also go in this box. There is a green bag for newspapers magazines etc but NO envelopes (junk mail must be taken out of plastic wrappers and envelopes), yellow pages, greetings cards wrapping paper, cardboard and shredded paper. As you can see we still have to resort to using some plastic bags and no I am not advertising Tesco intentionally as I only shop at the local 'tesco metro' mainly for daily papers.

Now you can put cardboard, provided it has not come into contact with food, into the green bin. Shredded paper can also go into the green bin but only if it is in a cardboard box (this according to the binmen is because it will blow all over the yard if it is not contained - and it would take too long to clear it up!!). Also in the green bin goes compostable waste such as grass clippings, twigs, branches, leaves, weeds and rabbit and rodent bedding but not cat, dog or bird cage litter and no food.

All other refuse goes into the black bin. Neither bin will be emptied if the lid is not closed. Have I lost you yet I am sure you switched off a long time ago. Oh yes, councils want the bins out before 7:30am on collection day but if you are away on this day they do not want you put them out in advance. What about plastic bottles you may wonder, these can only be recycled from specific drops e.g. at a supermarket store, luckily for me the supermarket I use (Sainsbury's) does have a plastic bottle bank (but there are rules- bottles washed, lids must be off and wrapper removed-have you tried getting some of these off).

I do not want to give the impression I am against recycling far from it I want to do my bit for the environment. In fact about three years ago we decided to compost our waste food despite the fact that we did not really have the space to do this very easily. We failed miserably using a plastic compost bin obtained from the council. The grass cuttings, peeling etc took so long to compost, the smell in the summer was awful as we could not site it far enough away from where we sat. However, that was not the main problem, when we were emtying the bin what should jump out but a 'rat'. I screamed and my husband said I hadn't moved so fast for a long time (I dispute that because, at the time, I was still playing competative tennis and moved pretty niftily even if I say so myself). The nest was quite fascinating, and it was surprising all the paper and things the rat had gathered and it had several tunnels for escape. I had to get the rodent officer to call and he thought there would be a second nest under the tortoises house so he set bait, returned to check and I am pleased to say we saw no further signs. This has put me off composting at least for the time being.
Now the other negative aspect of recycling is that it actually costs quite a lot to the household, firstly it's quite time consuming, extra hot water and washing up liquid used to get container clean; in turn this uses extra fuel and cost more. Taking plastic to recycling bank again impact on use of petrol and car, if making a special journey. Storing all the different containers is not always easy in many households where space is already limited. The individual has no control over the packaging used by supermarkets (lots of plastic containers could be recycled but councils do not have the facilities for this- it would certainly reduce the amount going into land fill sites. I asked the men on the recycle lorry last week why more wasn't being done to increase the collection of plastic response and I quote

'its bad enough now since the introduction of the green bag people are recycling all sorts it already takes us twice as long to do the collections we don't want more it would take even longer'

well excuse me for not being sympathetic isn't this the object of the excercise and isn't that what they're paid to do. The householder isn't paid to clean and sort. Councils are even going the route of introducing additional charges to collect our refuse and recycling and some are already putting electronic chips into the bins to track our habits. The papers are full of articles on invasion of privacy- big brother is watching and people are vowing to remove the chips from their bins- I did check they hadn't slipped one into my bin when my back was turned.
I always use my own bags and I have even bought a jute bag which is all natural material. I also have two bags given free as a promotional for Sainsbury's organic vegetables (you will see these on the linked site).

I am also the owner of a can crusher which arrived from Lakeland today, I rushed out to retrieve a can from recycle box to try it out but even with all my weight it did not flatten as I thought it would, so what am I doing wrong I wonder. I'll get Mike onto it when he comes in from work.

I think I have been on my soapbox for long enough. Time for lunch and a quick read of the papers. Do I really want to read about Rumsfeld's resignation. I will enjoy the English (Norfolk) strawberries even if they are grown under glass at this time of the year. Also don't tell anyone I am eating some very tasty cheddar cheese as its bad for my cholesterol. Then I must make sure I retrieve the recycling bag and box, I don't want to be reprimanded for leaving them too long on the pavement; it might be a health and safety issue for pedestrians.

PS> I tried the can crusher again after a minor adjustment (by Mike) and hoorah its working fine and I have a couple of very flat tins so this will save on space.



At 9/11/06 20:28, Blogger Beccy said...

The strawberries and cheese do look nice mum.

Your bin men should come over here, since they've introduced pay per weigh people put their bins out far less. I put mine out once every 4-5 weeks, the bin men have far less work to do and finish earlier yet still get paid the same!

At 9/11/06 20:46, Blogger ChrisB said...

I think that would be right up their street

At 10/11/06 00:49, Blogger Sam said...

Here is what you do:

buy only fresh produce and no prepackaged food and then you have minimum waste to deal with.

Put loose items like veggies and fruit directly in your personal shopping bag without further plastic baggage.

Buy milk in bottles that are reused, not recycled if possible.

throw things that need to be washed before recycling in the dishwasher when you have some spare space.

keep your old cheeserinds in the freezer and add them to soups for extra flavour.

Put everything in the black bin anyway - I bet they don't do anything with half the stuff for recycling anyway.

fred and i barely fill half of one black sack a week, plus a small bag of perrier and sometimes wine bottles. That's it for our total waste.

ask fred what he thinks of recycling (with a little help from penn and teller)

At 10/11/06 02:16, Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Ha ha! This is hilarious.
Except I think my head would explode.
Oops, it did.

At 10/11/06 08:09, Blogger Beccy said...

Easily said Sam but when you're shopping for a family of five on a budget it's not as easy. A bag of 7 apples is cheaper than individual apples and imagine my trolley with millions of fruit and veg loose and rolling aroung getting squashed, then the checkout girl would drop them on the floor while trying to fit them on the weighing scales. I know this from experience and only use bags for things I feel need to be contained. My neighbour (single) puts her bin out weekly to fortnightly so I think I do well with my recycling and composting and only putting my bin out monthly.

At 10/11/06 08:23, Blogger ChrisB said...

Sam good point and I wish I could but its not practical. Sainsbury's are working on bio-degradable packaging and its being used for some of the organic fruit/veg I buy. Granny uses masses of tinned stuff as you know.

Cookiecrumb you and me both would you believe if you happen to get it wrong( accidentally) you get a note put on the bin (they have time for that) and it just gets left behind.

Becs you do well for a big family

At 6/1/08 22:26, Blogger lisa's chaos said...

Sounds like a good recycling thing. My son is working at a place that does the sorting once it's brought in. You would be amazed at what they find in amongst the paper, glass, cans and such. He found a baby bottle full of coins ($36 worth) he was able to keep.


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