Recycling? Is it really efficient?

Some years ago, in the mid 1970s, one of the great themes in the worldwide ecology debate was the slogan… ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’……a slogan which is think was, and is, brilliant and succinct

The idea seemed extremely sensible as we appeared to be consuming the world’s goods at a horrendous rate

…….. perhaps we could ‘do without’ occasionally. In other words…so we would use a lot less of our dwindling material resources, as the world is not infinite.

…… If we could find some other uses for the items, we might double or even treble the lifetime for which the item could be used

…….and only lastly, when no further use could be contemplated, it could go in a recycle box. It was then out of our hands, and we would have played a part in the three stages.

This, however, requires us returning a couple of generations in our thinking……..we have to learn that just because something is heavily advertised, it is not absolutely essential that we go out and buy one……..we have to be more knowledgeable and inventive in our attitude to repairing, modifying and adapting items for re-use in some other guise……….and thirdly we have to be able to recycle (in an economic way) those items which cannot be reused in any other way.

Fast-forward to the 21st Century…………and how far are we on in the crusade to ‘Reduce, Re-use, and Re-cycle’ ? Frankly I don’t think we are much better! But let’s look at it all in a bit more detail……

REDUCING CONSUMPTION……

  1. Watching people in supermarket check-outs shows me we are purchasing more than we used-to. Food is certainly a necessity, but we are eating more than we ever did, as obesity remains high on the list of medics’ concerns.
  2. Continuing persuasion, by marketing folk, to get the ‘very latest’ tech gadgets, furniture, clothes, mobile phones, and holidays etc from larger and larger stores, at lower and lower prices has been evident and shortened the life-time, and reduced the ‘valuation’ of almost everything we own.
  3. So we are consuming more, of everything, we are travelling more miles on our way to exotic locations for holidays. I know of no areas where we are consuming less. Economic growth seems to be all important to the good of the country, but not of the world.
  4. Regarding packaging….When I was young, I remember my mother opening her carry-ing bag , to allow the grocer to put in loads of potatoes, carrots etc, followed by beautifully-wrapped chunks of cheese, fish, and meat, and this worked well. The bag was reused many times, and some of the greaseproof paper may have wrapped my lunch-piece, and ended up helping to light the fire. The use of more-complicated wrapping materials has caused a problem As much cannot be recycled.
  5. As far as repairing and re-using items, we in the West are not particularly good as doing this, whilst less-developed civilisations are much better. We have lost many of the skills which our parents had, for self-sufficiency and rarely is something repaired. It us almost impossible to get a cooker, fridge or washing machine repaired, as the tradesmen often suggest that it is cheaper for you to buy a new one than repair it.
  6. And finally, recycling may recover some of the materials, but cannot regain the energy used in the manufacture of the original product. So we really have only one option……buy fewer things, repair, and then, and only then see if there is a proper re-cycling programme available, and not just a massive skip of mixed stuff…

So maybe it IS time to rethink our attitude to usage of what is, after all, a finite resource. The future generations will condemn us, and rightly so, for this inordinate consumption, and the way in which we dispose of our waste into the oceans, and landfill……oh, dear, what a mess we are in…..

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You can Bank on it!

Good lady and I were recently making decisions about some of our investments and had made an appointment with a specific advisor, at our bank (which we used for many years for personal and business banking). So as is our wont, we were there on time.
We were asked to take a seat along with some other people. In the intervening 25 minutes we waited, we were asked by three different members of staff if we were being looked-after, whilst it was obvious we were not!
Ultimately, we never saw our advisor, or received an apology, but another member of staff decided to deal with us, and did so with efficiency.
We thanked her and were heading off, when she informed us that we might receive a service call from the Head Office about how she had dealt with us. There was then what I can only describe as a plea that we commend her work, as, if we described it as less than excellent, she would be ‘marked-down’.
What an insult to the human dignity of an individual, just doing her job!
I assured her that if such a phone call materialised, I would refuse to make any comment about her as an individual, but would restrict my conversation to statements about the Bank in general.
While the senior people within the banks in general command (or should I say, demand) unbelievable salaries, I will hold them responsible for any deficiencies in the system….or maybe they would agree to a call centre where annoyed customers could vent their spleen about the way banks are run!

European friends…

It was just about a year ago that we were on holiday on Lake Como, in Italy. Sad to say the weather was worse there than it had been in Scotland, and the hotel and food left a little to be desired. Luckily it was a secondary holiday, so we were happy to make the best of it.

There was a wide range of nationalities represented, as you can imagine, and I always enjoy speaking a foreign language. The difficulty arises when you catch short snatches of what is obviously not English, but are unable to identify it. I once had a long chat in German with a gentleman at the Mozartblick viewpoint in Austria, and only when we asked each other where we lived did I discover that he came from London, and of course I was from the west of Scotland! Red faces and laughter were evident in equal measure!

And so it was at Lake Como. Staring out at the rain, I sensed a Germanic conversation drifting towards me from a couple. I was in the midst of commenting on the weather in German, but was informed that ‘We are not Germans’ in German, and then repeated in an undistinguishable lingo. It turned out they were from the Netherlands, and from such a rather unfortunate start, we grew to be regular conversationalists in English which they both spoke very well!

Over the relatively-few days when our holidays overlapped, we found a bond developing, and since they had never been in Scotland, they were invited to come to our house to see some of the best of our wonderful country. Such offers and acceptances are easily made, and just as easily allowed to lapse. But we felt there was something in this one, and exchanges of Christmas cards, and the arrival of a Dutch-English Dictionary, seemed to weld the friendship together, and eventually dates and provisional plan were agreed.

It was probably at this time that a few minor thoughts crossed the minds of both families…..we didn’t know each other well, would they like our food, could they manage English for a solid eight days?, what if it rained all the time? would they be comfortable staying in someone else’s house? what about their political views?, could I learn a few words of Dutch? We were also having a large party at our house at the same time, for Son’s 40th birthday, so how would they manage in a large crowd?

Suffice to say that all went perfectly. From the meeting at the airport we felt we were in the presence of lovely friendly people, who settled well into our house, and seemed comfortable to be with. The weather was unbelievable, and trips to Aberfoyle,the Trossachs, Dunoon, Inveraray, Glencoe, Loch Lomond, Glasgow, St Andrews, and Crail went well. Unfortunately there are so many great places to be seen that they could only visit a few. The eventual parting was accompanied by a number of tear-stained faces, and many hugs!

We have seen how two different cultures can get along so well in the intimate spaces of a house and car, such that even possible disagreements in culture or politics do not have to prevent people from being part of a friendly human race. We are now saving our Euros so that we can make a return trip, but I must try to get my tongue round some of their very strange-sounding words..because they’re not German, you know!

….pass it on!

I have been recently having fun on Facebook, talking about a mythical character or animal called Herman, whom we have been looking after for the last 10 days for our neighbour’s children. The amount of guessing by respondents has been fantastic, and the secret is now out.!

I have been caring-for and feeding (at no great expense) a sourdough yeast mixture which they handed-in with a sheet of instructions to ensure that the proper attention was provided. This has now been done for the appropriate time, and I am now the proud possessor of a large amount of starter which I will now pass to appropriate folk with the same instructions. I will be left with a small amount, to which I can add many ingredients and bake myself a a cake.

It is a beautiful example of how we can pass around something quite small and insignificant, generate some fun, give away most of the result, and still have something left with which to make something nice for ourselves.

For those who were not reading the FB status or want more details, click on the link below.

http://www.hermanthegermanfriendshipcake.com/

…..exhausted!

Our children are now mature adults and long-since flown the nest. Children’s books, Lego, and dolls had been packed into boxes in the loft. The Drive where we live is quite mature and few children are around to chase from the garden or criticise for playing football in the road.

When we heard of the coming of a young family, next door, it was with an understandable slight concern that the peaceful existence we had enjoyed for a couple of decades might be shattered for ever!

However the worries proved fruitless as one admired how the expected racket was absent. Glancing through the fence we could see the occasional gentle skirmish, and girlish giggling, but nothing causing any problems.

As their courage grew, we would be greeted with ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’, so they obviously did not bite! A brief afternoon visit to our house saw them clinging round Mum and Dad, until I produced a massive  box of Lego, once much-loved by my son. He had given strict instructions that it was never to be given away, and so the wisdom was proved. Many a weird vehicle and building was produced that day.

So the ice was broken, but it took a little time before they came over to spend a sunny afternoon in the garden with us. This would give Mum a bit of breathing space and relative freedom for a few hours. Surely it  would be easy to keep two lovely children amused. But it was only then we realised how long it had been since we had children around us.

We started with making small posies of flowers. There are numerous bluebells in the garden just now and plenty to be made into small sprays to be taken back to Mum. Then they got  the chance to plant lettuce, onion sets and strawberries in pots, for taking-care-of at home. This involved much compost-spilling and having to be shown how gently the plants were to be held with small fingers so as not to damage them. Using a long-spouted watering-can proved quite difficult with small hands, but eventually mastered. Tidying-up then ensued, and no problem there. Each pot was carried home individually with no complaint.

‘What can we do now’?  ….was the call…..’OK, time for a break, a drink, and a biscuit, as we sat in the gazebo out of the bright sun. This allowed the pretence of being in a magic house which could land anywhere in the world. This theme lasted but a short time before a bit more physical exercise was called-for. Valient attempts with shuttlecock and badminton racket on the lawn caused frustration and laughter in equal measure as there were as many misses as hits! And all the while came the questions…Why? What? Where? When? How?….as young minds strove to make sense of this very-complicated world.

And so the afternoon came to an end, they went back to see Mum and Dad, and we got on with our own weekend events. Next day we were presented with little posies by Axxxx, and Dxxxxxx was shouting through the fence…’Can we come round?….

…..no problem….just let me have a snooze first!

A strange feeling!

So, just after our 43rd Wedding Anniversary,Young Lady of the House, and I are officially moving into semi-retirement. Last Friday,  we closed the shop where we have provided a local service for the last 13 years. There were other places before that, since 1984, but this had been the first one where we to be exposed to the ‘walk-in’ general public.

We’re not retiring, just moving back to our house, and providing a peripatetic service….(if you don’t know what it means…shame on you!). This meant that we had to sort out all the ‘stuff’ we had gathered in our offices over all the years, as well as records which we felt we just ‘had to keep’. This had to be compressed into one room, while still having everything available for instant access, as the phone calls and faxes are still coming-in.

Unfortunately the e-mails are not…..aaaaaarrrrgggghhh!

Our computer specialist has been in this evening and has found our lovely computer to be full of errors….so will have it tomorrow to clean it out and reload.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however, as we don’t HAVE to be up early in the morning, we don’t have to be available immediately to all and sundry who want me to do things they should be doing themselves, we don’t have the cost of insurance, heating, lighting, advertising, unwanted phone selling etc. We will still be able to provide the vast majority of the service we have provided recently but in a more relaxed way. I will still have to go out to my patients, some at a distance, but I can fit it into a day-trip with the Young Lady of the House, to some of the lovely parts of Scotland.

……..we’re really looking forward to all that…..once we can get the 15 boxes of stuff cleared and put away somewhere, where we can find them again!

…………….TO BE CONTINUED……….