Where there's muck there's brass

Wednesday 21 July 2010 11:49

Spoken by Yorkshiremen working in scrap metal, today the saying holds true even more as perfectly usable items are disposed of without much thought to how they could be of use to another person or recycled.

Before the housing market crashed, many wealthy people would buy houses in excess of £1M and simply rip out the guts. Skips London were parked in drives or lined avenues as perfectly good kitchens with marble work surfaces were ripped out and tossed away simply so the new owner could leave their indelible mark on the house. Granite work tops replaced marble work tops and nearly new fridges were replaced by brand new fridges. The level of waste thanks to the housing boom and its contribution to the destruction of the planet was a disgrace.

The truly wealthy are still profligate with possessions because they can be and very few wealthy people change a single habit to help preserve the planet. 

Often, parked in their drives are large cars which may be hybrids but the manufacture of the cars uses up many more natural resources than is balanced by the saving of the planet through reduced petrol consumption.

Of course, flying is a major part of being rich and flying in private jets is the vehicle of choice for many rich people who are still completely unaffected and unmoved by the woes that beset the planet through global warming. 

Waste recycling is not a waste of time or resources. Of course it is in its infancy just like a hundred years ago air travel was in its infancy, but, having said that, waste recycling is not the cure for our wicked ways. Waste recycling is a start but the simplest way to reduce waste is to stop wasting. There is a chance as the global economy freezes that the planet will get a breather from waste and pollution and start to recover. 

This writer is not advocating going back to the dark ages just simply asking for compromise. I am writing this article on a laptop but the laptop is five years old. In my pocket is a mobile phone and in my drawer are three old mobile phones. I will not be throwing away the old phones as there are companies that specialise in renovating old mobiles and selling them on to the developing world.

Outside my house is a car but it is an old car that has done over 100,000 miles. I am not going to scrap the car simply to get £2k from the government. The cost to the environment of manufacturing a new car for me to drive is not worth the £2k.

Please do not throw your hands up and think that I am a typical green who is happy to wear a hair shirt. I am green in spirit but I am also practical and I know that for people to change lifelong habits there have to be serious incentives and also a few penalties. 

We as the human race really can help ourselves live well and restore the world. We cannot prevent earthquakes or volcanoes erupting but we can prevent mountains sliding into the sea because all the trees have been chopped down. We can prevent soil erosion and the expansion of deserts because all the trees have been chopped down. And we can prevent the increase in CO2 because we chopped down all the trees. 

The pressure from over population is the catalyst behind all the world's pollution problems and no amount of waste recycling can stop people multiplying. But, global population predictions can be wrong. The truth is that unless you like living surrounded by mountains of waste and rubbish, waste recycling is going to be one of the great growth industries in the 21st century. It is time to embrace waste as an issue.

Is it really too much to ask that we all turn off our TVs, DVD players, digital boxes at the mains each night? Is it too much to ask that we all turn off our computers at the mains each night? Is it too much to ask that where practicable energy saving light bulbs are fitted? Is it too much to ask that you recycle your mobile phone, your old computer and monitor, and all the other so called rubbish that you no longer want? 

Is waste recycling too much to ask?

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