Monday, 15 June 2009

Waste Not Want Not

Did you know that according to Waste Watch, the volume of waste we produce in the UK in one day is enough to fill Trafalgar Square up to the top of Nelson's Column? When averaged out over a year this equates to 300 million square metres of land, that's the same as covering the pitch at Manchester United Football Club's ground, 28,450 times .

Or that the UK uses over six billion glass bottles and jars each year? It would take you over three and a half thousand years to sing "Six Billion Green Bottles Hanging on the Wall"! We produce and use 20 times more plastic today than we did in the 1950's! An average person throws away 74kg of organic waste each year, which is the same as 1077 banana skins and 900 million items of clothing are sent to landfill each year.

This is pretty shocking stuff and when you realise that on average, each person in the UK throws away seven times their body weight in rubbish every year. It is quite humbling that we are so wasteful, but what shocks me more is not just the amount we throw away, but the quality of what we throw away. Ok, we have schemes for recycling, but that is about plastics, papers and tins etc. If you want to get rid of larger items, what happens to them? Yes there are schemes out there that will relieve you of your items, but this sort of recycling is centred on somebody else doing the work. If you want something recycled you have to give it to somebody else to take away and deal with. More importantly it seems that a lot of people can’t even be bothered to pick up the phone and organise it, a huge amount of perfectly serviceable items are taken to local rubbish tips every day and dumped.

Just think of all that wasted potential sitting on a tip, waiting to simply rot away. So many of these items are perfectly useable, just a little worn and faded or surplus to requirements. This throw away society that we live in means that we think it is acceptable to just dump things that we no longer want and buy something new. And yet all some of these items need is a lick of paint and a little TLC and they could have years of service left in them.

Your local tip is a great place to go bag a bargain. Take a trip and see what you can find. One note of caution though is that some local authorities will allow you to go and buy things from a specially designated site, but others refuse outright on the basis of health and safety, so do double check before you go.

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