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Welcome to the world of the Vincent D'Onofrio obsessed - and a bit of real life thrown in.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Extreme Recycling

Once upon a time everyone used to take their own shopping bags with them when they went to the shops. Drinks were bought in returnable glass bottles with refundable deposits. The streets were not full of non-degradable items that people couldn't be bothered to put in bins - and there was a bin on almost every lamppost.

Then there were no bins in the street, or at railway stations. They were deemed a security threat after the IRA put bombs in bins. People bought fast food and ate it as they walked along. They discarded the packaging where they stood, with no idea of taking it home with them. What we did take home went into the dustbin, which was emptied into a landfill. The whole developed world became a giant litter bin.

There are still precious few bins in the street, but what there are are often ignored, usually overfull, and do little to improve the state of our cities. The countryside is not much better, with people winding down their car windows to throw out their cigarette packets and sweet wrappers. They even throw out lit cigarettes in hot, dry weather, causing fires alongside our motorways. Most people rely on supermarket carrier bags by the dozen, unthinkingly accepted, frequently discarded before they even reach home, choking our rivers, polluting even the oceans so that the fish people eat has bits of plastic in it.

But we can now recycle much more stuff (of course, not using stuff in the first place, and the energy it takes to make it, and the energy it takes to recycle it, is better, but still) and in fact my own local council has just taken out a contract with a new, better recycling company.

But with the price of all kinds if metals so high, scrap yards are having a field day. I was glad when a load of scrap metal collected from my back garden disappeared from its pile in my front garden within a couple of days. It was intended to. I wouldn't have been so happy about it, though, if I could have foreseen how appalling the problem was about to become.

Daily, we hear about disruption to trains because electrical wiring to the signals has been stripped out. Operations in hospitals have to be cancelled because power cables have been stolen. People's phones are disabled. Church roofs leak with theft after theft of lead flashing. Scrap yards are uncontrolled, and the government, rather than push through legislation begun by the previous administration, just has to make new laws of its own, and is in no hurry to do so.

A few years ago, before the problem became so widespread and serious, a Henry Moore sculpture was stolen from a sculpture park. Now a Barbara Hepworth has been hacked from its plinth in a south London park.

Whatever its price as scrap, the sculpture itself is valued at a quarter of a million pounds.

But not for much longer.


Post Script. I just heard a load of hammering in the street and looked out to find three men with various wheeled trolleys full of metal bashing away at a TV or some such item in a skip outside a house, trying to get the insides out. They also vaulted over someone's garden wall in search of metal stuff to recycle. Given that they didn't seem to have any idea of what was potentially theirs and what was other people's, I called the police. They didn't sound very interested.

What a surprise.

And if they were the ones who stole the Hepworth? Tough.

8 comments:

vikeau said...

Interestingly enough we have the same problem on this side of the pond.

Diane said...

I read recently that one guy killed himself trying to strip copper wiring from an electricity sub-station - GOOD!! Here's hoping a few more thieving bastards go the same way.

bobbybegood1 said...

Wow! Thanks for this post Val. This issue crosses all oceans, rivers, lakes, and ponds. I am a big one on recycle and reuse. I can't tell you how disappointed I am at all the trash, garbage stuff I see in the cities of America. People just don't seem to care about keeping streets, parks, sidwalks clean. I wonder if the live inside their own homes like this. I see gum wrappers, cigarett butts, potatoe chip bags, dog poop, even spit all over the sidewalks and streets. That's why I take my shoes off when I enter my home. People live like disgusting dogs and I am sick of it. It's really a pity. I have one bag that I take to the market with me to put my foodstuff in so I don't use those plastic bags which are very poisonous. I read they give off folmaldahyde and all sorts of toxins. We have got to do better on a global basis. Anyways, enough of my venting. Nice post! Cheers!!

bobbybegood1 said...

Ha! Diane you are wicked. Cheers!!

JoJo said...

It's happening everywhere. It was especially bad in Washington. Art stolen, bells from churches and temples, wiring for street lights...plumbing stripped from foreclosed homes.....

vikeau said...

It seems to spike when times are bad. But public art--I can deal with a missing metal trash can but leave the public art alone.

ann said...

Stealing works of art goes beyond the pale :-(

Manufacturers really must get to grips with their packaging and its subsequent waste. Apart from the effect on the environment, surely simpler packaging would be easier on the purse too.

I religiously use recycle shopping bags but apparently overuse makes them unhygienic. I would have thought recycled paper carriers would be the healthiest option all round.

Nantz said...

I use 'green bags' to do my shopping...can't stand all those plastic bags. People here steal copper.

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