Archives for posts with tag: Waste

I’ve blogged on the concept of waste before. In fact I’ve done it here and here.

I’m not a big fan of waste. You observe it everywhere. Food waste, materials waste, packaging waste, energy waste, resources waste, and wastes of time.

What about cut flowers? They look lovely, but their lives are literally cut short for personal pleasure rather than longer pleasure that benefits the wider community. In fact, anything we use for something that doesn’t last long enough – and we all make a judgement on the enough part – or doesn’t create anything new, is not a good return. It’s a waste.

Of course, time is the greatest waste of all. It’s what I feel most keenly when someone dies before their time, if you pardon the clumsy pun. Even if it’s someone I don’t know. The lost potential, the lost possibility for them to further touch and improve the lives of others. We’ll never get that back.

Which is why the exclamation ‘what a waste’, for the smallest detail like a missed shot on goal, or to express the biggest ideas, is probably the biggest criticism we can make. It’s a huge, damning insult.

So, calling someone a time-waster is a deep criticism to level at someone. They’ve wasted your time, and the time of others, and that is indeed a heinous sin.

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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.

You’re familiar with the phrase ‘who’s policing the police?’. One thing that has recently taxed my brain is this: who’s watching the recycling?

As a nation, Ireland is pretty decent at recycling household waste. Better than the Brits and way better than the Americans, not as good as our Teutonic friends.

Our actual waste wheelie bin is dwarfed in weight by our recycling bin, which goes out every fortnight full to the brim, if bins have brims. We’re very good, as a family I think, at reducing, reusing and recycling.

But, just because we recycle well as a family, that don’t mean a thing once our bin’s contents are upended into the recycling waste truck. What happens then?

I sure as heck don’t know. For all I know, they might be throwing the recycling into landfill. Maybe people aren’t as judicious with their recycling and are adding items that can’t be recycled. How are the waste companies sorting the different types of recycled material? Are they removing non-recyclable stuff? Again, I don’t know. We’re trusting in a process that we have no visibility of whatsoever.

We’re pleased with ourselves at how good we are at recycling, yet we’re not actually recycling. We’re starting the recycling process but we’ve no idea how it ends, or in fact how much of it ends.