Thursday, 14 February 2008

recycling things

I have been tagged by the fabulous irisheyes to talk about what I have recycled. She is the queen so if you want to know what can be done you know where to go. I am not sure I have anything to say that is anything like as unusual or interesting as the things she does.

We do however recycle madly at home: we have three bins: one for paper and things to burn (is that green? I don't know. We have fires so we get rid of stuff), one for glass, newspaper, plastic and tins and one for the small amount of rubbish which really does have to go to landfill. Then there is the bucket which takes all the stuff which goes to the compost heap: peelings and teabags, apple cores and onion skins, egg shells and coffee grounds. The recycling is not collected up here on the hill. It is piled in the ramshackle outside utility room, boxes full of glass and paper, bags and bags of burnable rubbish waiting to go to the fire. The compost goes into one of the five compost bays which should be a compost factory making enough to keep the whole garden in organic material. Actually you can never make enough. Even with horse manure and rotting down turf, it is all gone in no time. The boxes which eventually go to the recycling centre are piled into the trailer every couple of months and take a trip to Mold.

Mold has the most wonderful tip for a lover of such things like me. There are separate sites for everything: a place for old TVs and computer monitors, a place for fridges, one for scrap metal, one for cardboard, one for yellow pages, one for batteries, one for old paint along with all the normal glass, paper, tin and plastic. There are bins for shoes and clothes to be reused and one for books. Then there is one very small skip for things which can't be put anywhere else. It is a model of its kind.

Ian is the great recycler in our house, producing the ideal bit of plastic or wood to mend a broken anything. Along with all the tools in the world, laid out in the workshop like a small supermarket (Aisle 2, Bay 3 for electricals) he has trays of useful stuff. In the house this drives me mad. Do we really need to have a drawer full of old phones? But once it makes its way outside it does support an ability to mend practically everything in the world.

The only things I really recycle are food and plants. Conjuring a meal out of leftovers or making something which we are eating for a second day feel like a different meal are talents which I think I inherited from my mother. I am appalled by the news that we throw away a third of the food we buy in this country. I don't mean that I am immune to the wrinkled red pepper in the bottom of the fridge or the sprouting potatoes in the pantry but I do tend to find a way of using them if I possibly can. In fact we are so likely to keep things and try to eat them that we have to have a check through the fridge before younger daughter (fondly known as the Fridge Police) comes home and rummages through the things past their sell by dates tutting and muttering about how we will poison ourselves one day.

I'm also pretty keen on making more plants from plants. Pots and pots accumulate outside the greenhouse with pinks and baby hellebores and root cuttings of oriental poppies. This year we have cut our own canes, hazel rods really, from the long growths on the big hedge to use instead of bamboo. We shall use the old bamboo which has been around for years but I don't intend to buy anymore so that is a form of recycling I suppose.

And I do recycle books, taking some to charity shops and bringing new ones in through the door, in a not entirely successful effort to keep the numbers under control. I admire the great forms of material recycling, particularly patchwork and anything which uses vintage material for bags and cushions and gives it a second life but I don't do much of it myself. There are not enough hours in the day to do everything. It is a pity you can't recycle time.

17 comments:

  1. I tend to be very good about food and hate to waste it, as you are. And I don't think I've ever thrown anything away for the yard or garden if it's reusable, even those little plastic pots. My husband calls me a pack rat, but he's suitable impressed when I go into a closet or drawer and come up with whatever one or another of the children needs.

    My favorite new thing I do is freecycle. When I have something I no longer need, I post it on the freecycle bulletin board. I've given away old clothes and shoes, hubby's old technical books, our moving boxes, and a microwave just in the past three or four months. I've also picked up a few things, like free magazines for art projects and a black light. It's very cool.

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  2. It's amazing just how much you can recycle when you turn your mind to it - we only seem to throw away plastics that aren't accepted by the council, so I try to buy things that aren't over-packaged. Frequently not easy.

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  3. you mentioned things i wouldn't have thought of, like recycling books...

    we have a compost bin in the yard, but it's small and deep, which is not a good shape for turning it. i wish i'd gotten the round kind that you can roll.

    and we recycle plastic, glass, paper, newsprint, cardboard.....

    but you're right: time. that would be the best.

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  4. hiya elizabeth. like your blog! hope all is well.

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  5. We nearly always have leftovers for lunch - I'm really looking forward to the cauliflower cheese that I know is in the fridge. It will be delicious grilled, on toast. I find it very hard to throw fabric away, but I must admit that I haven't made a cushion cover for years. Freecycle here is a bit limited - you need population density to make it work well. But I'm about to recycle some books via Bookmooch.

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  6. I know exactly what you mean re book recycling...funnily enough, Ive just spent ths pm( I live very dangerously) sorting out m'bk shelves and have 4 bags full for the charity shop...
    HA! So tomorrow Im off to Waterstones..

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  7. I try & recycle most things. I was brought up with the motto, "waste not, want not"

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  8. We've an amazing local tip too - though the word 'tip doesn't do it justice. It is a fantastically organised place.

    Doesn't separating stuff really drill home the amount of waste we generate and how little thought is given to its ultimate destination? Landfill would have been the answer for most people until fairly recently. I still think for a lot of people it's: 'out of sight - 'out of mind'- ie in the bin.

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  9. I have this uncontrollable passion for washing up margarine tubs ...why? Coz they are plastic and should be re used...for what?
    I have thousands of them in carrier bags hanging up in the summer house.....I shall be drowning in them soon.....sad isn't it?

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  10. recycling time - what a fab concept. Pretty impressive recycling list, you should feel very smug!
    Pigx

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  11. I grew up with a mother who recycled everything before we even knew of such a word. In those days it was embarrassing to be sent to school with a sandwich wrapped in re-used foil. Now we're all at it. It sounds as though you should be up for a recycling prize - and your Ian...he could be my Great Dane's twin brother!! Whenever he repairs/builds something with a recycled bit from his workshop he smugly says "See - and you wanted me to get rid of this widget".

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  12. I also grew up with the phrase 'Waste not, want not' ringing in my ears. In those days we mended everything, bottles and jam jars (glass of course) were recycled automatically - usually you paid a deposit on them. Even Coca Cola bottles went back to the shop. You mended clothes of course, patching and darning and of course no food went to waste. Anything you couldn't eat went to feed the pigs and chickens. Old furniture went to the auction house, from where you bought the furniture you needed. Lovely to know you share the same spirit Elizabeth!

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  13. It is amazing how long one can leave food before it really is past it, (I made a cheese sauce last week with two month old Brie) - I think we worry far too much about dates etc, you can tell if somethings; off by the smell and appearance, never mind the date stamp. If there was a UK famine people would soon learn to eat their leftovers (I am sounding like MY mum now!)

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  14. This was a joy to read, way to go E-m! Love the pic of the hen, I have a passion for these useful wee beasties. SB am with you on the cartons, I use them [what I don't donate to the recycling bin] for planting seedlings in. You're a champion recycler; isn't it amazing what we can all do when we put our minds to it? Geraniumcat, have gleaned a few neat ideas for those left overs. Thank you!

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  15. I wouldn't have thought about recycling books, although I swop lots with friends.

    Hubby won't hear of me re-heating leftovers! But it's something I was brought up on....bubble and squeek and brown sauce!

    xx

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  16. Once you have the recyling bug thats it, you soon start discovering uses for lots of items you would have previously thrown away. I agree with you on the tip site at Mold, it definatly makes recycling a lot easier.

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