Sunday, 23 September 2007

It's just Rubbish so let's recycle

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When I was a kid we just threw stuff away we didn’t need. We had a milkman that delivered the milk in bottles and he collected the emptied bottles and brought new bottles of milk. If you bought something at a grocery shop it was packed in a paper bag. This was thrown away, without any burden to the environment, after all paper can be burnt or it just disintegrates. Electrical gadgets were repaired as far as it would go. If you got chips in the local fish and chip shop they were wrapped in newspaper (when I was very young) but later in white paper bags. Who remembers buying a packet of Smith’s crips with the salt packed separately in a little blue wax paper wrapper, there was no system for including the salt with the crisps. Oh happy days, you had no feeling of guilt and could just go through life without having a bad conscience. Even smoking wasn’t a danger to your health although that is debatable. I gave it up about ten years ago and would never start again, but my grandfather managed to live to the ripe old age of 89 and rolled his own. Now I am getting off the beaten track.

Where I work we have a recycling company next door. Actually they don’t recycle but supply the various bins for putting the goods in. The company mainly deals with old metal, but also has containers for glass. The glass containers are naturally sorted in clear glass, green glass and brown glass. I remember once watching the men from the council emptying the glass bins. They opened it up and guess what? It didn’t really matter where you religiously put the glass, it all ended up in the same place. The main thing I suppose is that we all sorted the glass before throwing it away. We had a machine at the local supermarket where you put the big plastic bottles in and it automatically squeezed them to make more room. The problem was that the squeezing bit did not always work properly and most of the time you just heard an automatic siren going to warn the personnel to come and have a look. Did they? Well not really. Eventually they put up three enormous containers with a poster stuck on the side to show how to take the lid off the bottle, tread on the plastic to force the air out and then put the lid back on. However, this was not popular so now you just throw the plastic bottle into the container and take it that someone does the work for you – perhaps a professional plastic bottle squeezer.

We also used to have bins for aluminium foil. Luckily the use of aluminium foil to wrap up chocolate is not longer necessary. This has now been taken over by a sort of paper which looks and feels very much like a synthetic paper. Whether this is more environment friendly or not I don’t really know.

Our cars now have catalysators, but still run on petrol. I wonder how longer our oil reserves will last? In any case, no worry, I am sure Mr. Bush will make sure that they remain in the hands of the most competent. The only reason why I actually try to save on throwing stuff away is because we are only allowed to use special plastic bags to throw the stuff away in where I live. They have to have the crest of the local rubbish burning place on them and cost about one Swiss Franc each which is not cheap. Apparently it is to cover the rubbish disposal costs at the main dump. They have now found out that the rubbish disposal unit is not being used to the full as they are not getting so much rubbish as they used to.

Another thing that comes to my mind are the rubbish disposal places being watched by a hidden camera. Big Swiss rubbish disposal brother is always watching and there is many a Swiss citizen that has been in court for throwing something away that could have been got rid of properly (naturally by paying for it extra). We even have people that examine the rubbish. If something is found that is suspect, the rubbish is examined and be warned if you have thrown perhaps an envelope away with it showing your name and address. The rubbish police are soon knocking at the door.

We are lucky in the village where I live. We have special rubbish collections, usually taking place at the end of September and March, the reason being that officially in Switzerland you are only allowed to move on these dates. If you move in between and find no-one to take over the place where you are living, then you are liable for paying the rent until these moving times. These special rubbish collections are divided into general stuff like furniture and metal objects.

Actually I took the photos as I was coming out of work as I found it interesting material, but the photos lead me to thinking things over.

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