The Trouble With Saving Stuff For Later
So, more than 40 companies have signed up to cut plastic pollution by 2025.
That was the news headline as I was driving around Moray with a vehicle full to bursting with “plastic stuff” this morning. Stuff bought and broken, accumulated and discarded over the decades. Some of it was barely no age at all yet now beyond its useful life. The entrails of a business, where I was feeling pretty accomplished at having successfully sold probably 98% of my stock on. Sold to other businesses and individuals who are already putting it to good use. That was my aim – to responsibly reuse or recycle as much as I could from my thirteen year business. Oh and possibly the odd item left over from two house moves.
For example, take the pile of beautiful, but random, chair sashes I discovered. Ok I admit it. I had actually discovered a “later” ironing bag and I realised I had already sold all their buddies. I scratched my head for a wee while wondering what to do with them. Crafters might like them? I even pressed them all – yes, the irony is not lost. And promptly packed them into a box and sent them to South Africa today to a young man about to start his own business styling weddings and events.
I am on a roll.
My responsible recycling is going well. High five me!
Ah, but hold on. You see the reality is this was still all small beer. Even after removing the three now empty stockrooms of “stuff” from the equation, I was still left with that one space. You know the one? The one where we put the things we might one day use, or don’t have time to deal with right now. We all have one don’t we? A “later” space. A drawer, a box, a cupboard. Or in my case a complete attic room. To be fair it wasn’t always my dumping ground. It once had a purpose. Beautifully racked out, it stored my linen for my successful event company. I loved it! Then as I retired the business and the stock began to find its new homes, so the space gradually became my “later” space. The in laws are coming, I need to find the spare beds under all my “stuff”. Throw it in the loft. I archived my accounts. They needed a home. Throw it in the loft. Had new carpets fitted. Kept some spare in case. Yes, you are ahead of me now…it was all there in the attic room. To be dealt with later.
My “later” finally came this week.
It was time. It was daunting. How did it get like this? It was as if every time I closed the door everything in there came alive, jumped around, and brought its friends round. Like Bagpuss. Except at the end of every TV episode the mice returned to the mouse organ. Madeleine back to her chair. Prof Yaffle back to being a bookend. My reality was quite different. There is really no other way to describe it. My toy shop was a mess.
I was determined to tackle the job in an environmentally friendly way. Three days of shifting “stuff” from one side to the other. Splitting into my keep, my give away, my recycle and my bin piles. Watching the piles steadily grow before finally sending it all down the steps to the van.
I was determined to have at least some of my “stuff” do some good in this world.
So it was with a tiny sense of pride I delivered my first load of “stuff” to a technology hardware recycling company. A local enterprise who will take all manner of devices off your hands with a promise to either give them a new home, or a respectful end of life disposal. Three laptops, a printer, a screen, a desktop PC, a telephone, a couple of digi boxes, keyboards, mice (or is it mouses) and enough leads to go around the National Park twice. Those that can will be restored to a usable condition for affordable resale in their shop, or donated to qualifying groups or individuals. Anything deemed unsuitable for reuse is recycled in an environmentally friendly manner. And all undertaken by a team of staff and volunteers with a company ethic to train and support to help them grow practical and personal skills.
A double helping of goodness.
Give it away
My next stop was a delivery to a charity. Items I know I could have tried to resell for £2 through some well known auction site or social media selling group. But I have now been at this selling lark for almost 6 months now and the law of diminishing returns finally took hold of me this week and so I have a pile of “donations”.
I was still feeling quite pleased with myself at this point. Picture me, driving into the waste recycling yard with a sense of “this is it”. I was about to release the stuff which was weighing me, and my ceiling, down. Happily I moved from container to container with my cardboard, my small domestic electricals, my metal, my wood. my….”landfill”. What about this? “Landfill”. Spray paints? “Landfill”. Plastics? “Landfill”.
I mulled it over as I drove home.
That news headline popped up again to remind me of how much better we are going to be at plastic recycling. But it’s not enough is it? It’s nowhere near enough. Waging war on plastic bags and trays, straws and cotton buds is all great. But it’s still a tiny drop in a polluted ocean.
I confess I have never been a vocal activist in the environmental arena. Of course I care. We recycle waste at home. I wash my rubbish every Friday as I clean out my fridge. I have Alan Carr Chatty Man to thank for now not being able to do that without mentally hearing him hysterically laugh “I can’t believe I am washing my rubbish”. Mr Smith gets ticked off for leaving the screw tops on the wine bottles – the empties that is. I cook for four or six when there are only two of us and freeze the rest. I now look for loose veg in preference to prepackaged veg at the supermarket. But then my smugness falls apart as soon as I bag it. Into another plastic bag. Oh how I long for a proper farm shop to buy fresh veg when I need it. I don’t buy bottled water – I have a refillable bottle which I fill from my tap (and actually drink more now than I ever did before). Yes, I do all that. And I know there are lots more things I could do too.
Bring back paper bags I say.
And I can’t wait for the day you can go fill a bottle with your favourite shampoo or hand soap from a big dispenser (great idea Greenpeace UK). Not a plastic bottle of course. Failing that let’s adopt the MacRebur way to fix and surface our roads. Recycling plastic, all manner of plastics, on a global scale? And reducing our use of fossil fuels. Another double helping of goodness.
Because when it comes to the big stuff we are still a long way off aren’t we? And that bothers me. All that “stuff”, my stuff, all my plastic stuff, heading for another big hole in the countryside somewhere. Tonight I will probably dream about planting my new self sufficient, plastic wrapping free, salads into soil which is full of “stuff”. My old stuff. I can just see it now as I plunge my trowel into the ground and pull out …. six tins of gold spray paint.
Meanwhile my riddance of “stuff” is not entirely finished. Pair of glasses anyone?