This being Monday it is recycling day. Our plastic goes in blue bins and glass and
paper in brown bins which are placed in bigger bins on the back of a large lorry
by the collection team. Our food waste goes in plastic sacks because the lorry used
for food waste cannot get over the bridge that connects our island to the centre
It is all done quite efficiently by one man on his own, sometimes two who does all
household waste each week and recycling once a fortnight. I have no problem with
recycling but as I placed our sacks on the curtilage as the Council describes 'the
area of land occupied by a dwelling and its yard and outbuildings, actually enclosed
or considered as enclosed', or the bit of pavement outside our house, I thought how
much waste we actually get through in these modern days.
Most of our plastic bottles are milk containers. The milkman delivered your milk
each day in glass bottles which you washed and put out the next morning for the milkman
to collect. No waste, each bottle washed, cleaned and refilled. No mounds of plastic;
unfortunately no more milkmen. No more milkmen's horses - no more horse manure, good
for the roses!
Mrs B and I enjoy a glass of wine but grew up with beer. If you went to an Off Licence
way back when, you bought beer in bottles and the shop would charge you a small deposit.
Enough to make you return them when you needed more beer and then you didn't have
to pay the small deposit on the bottle.
It was a nice little earner for small boys to collect up bottles from back yards
and waste bins and return them to the shops and pubs. The deposit was usually three
pence, about one penny in modern cash but it was a lot of money then when multiplied
by the number of bottles. And the thing was, everyone encouraged the use and return.
It was quite normal to recycle old bottles. Look in anyone's bin these days and you'll
find bottles of every description.
As an aside I was reminded of an American champion swimmer who took this idea of
recycling bottles to inspire him in his sport - 'No Deposit, No Return'. How true!
Our local supermarkets have containers or reels of plastic bags by every shelf containing
fruit, veg or bread. They are on long rolls and no matter how much you pull and heave
you can never get just one and every item has to be inserted in its own plastic bag
and the shelves are filled with scrunched up bits of plastic that used to be a pristine
bag. What a waste.
When I was a lad and went shopping with my mother in Camden High Street she took
a large shopping bag and Chic at the greengrocers threw everything in the same bag.
Simple really; all you had to do was separate it at home, if you had to.
Same with bread and meat. Basic wrapping.
Speaking of which - newspapers. When people get upset over being misrepresented in
the press they are consoled with the thought that it will all be yesterdays news
and only fit to wrap up your chips. Go to a chippie these days you have a plastic
tray and two or three layers of paper.
In the old days you gave your old newspapers to the chippie in which he wrapped your
fish and chips the next day. That was recycling. And it tasted better.
Talking of which waste paper was a great source of income for poor boys like my mates
and me. If we needed a new football we went around the streets, knocking on doors
and asking for newspapers. Some people used to hoard them in the coal cellar. We
took them to the rag and bone man who weighed them and gave us a fair price. At least
we thought it was a fair price as long as it bought a new football. You see its all
about recycling and it kept us off the streets and did the environment a favour.
These days you can recycle them into logs for the fire with the Eko -Mania Newspaper Log Maker
We recycled in the old days more than we were given credit for and produced far less
waste. Makes you feel good to be old!