I’ve spent a few days clearing out and cleaning up the gardens and inside of a house we own in Ireland’s fair capital. It’s been years since a major revamp so the opportunity afforded by a break between tenants was welcome.

Part of this job involved removing a lot of used and partly used paint cans from the shed, abandoned by the previous tenants who, presumably, didn’t fancy the expense or effort of doing it themselves.

Ireland is pretty good when it comes to waste and recycling. We can recycle most things, and the local municipal tips will take large things like furniture, appliances and so on. One of the few things they don’t take for free are paint cans. For that I had to go to a special waste area where I was charged 70 cent per can. I emerged €13.30 lighter from the experience, but at least I had done a small part to make sure the contents were being disposed of in the best way possible.

I also had a large old plastic container of engine oil, mostly full. The plastic was free to recycle, but the cost to me to empty the oil into a large tank of similar oils was €3.50. I should point out that if I had brought 20 other oil containers the total charge would still have been €3.50, but I didn’t know that until I got there. What’s more, the oil took 10 minutes to empty out.

Add in the €5 for fuel for the 30-mile round trip and the out-of-pocket cost to me is approaching €25. This doesn’t include the depreciation to the car of about the same as the fuel, and the much larger opportunity cost associated with my time.

The cost of being ethical and living responsibly can still be considerable.

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