Stop wasting my time — 14 Comments

  1. “Back in The Good Old Days rubbish could be divided into just a few categories.  If it was combustible it was burned.  If it was degradable it went on the compost heap.  If it was edible it was eaten [either by us kids or by the dog].  If it was explosive I would bring it out to the field behind the house and have some fun.  If it was reusable it was reused and the minute fraction that was left over went into the bin.”

    Excellent post; I live in a South East Asian backwater and that is exactly how we deal with waste.  And as for plastic waste, it apparently has a value here; I just bag it up and hang it on the gate to our compound; within a couple of hours it has gone.

    • Heh! Yes, in Cambodia when I was on the beach, there were kids trailing huge plastic bags who would collect all the plastic water bottles and aluminium beer/soft drink cans. I would always save them so the kids could have them. Likewise, there was a very entrepreneurial lad in Phnom Penh who sold newspapers, and I would often buy an ‘International Herald Tribune’ from him. He would ask me not to do the crossword, and when I’d finished reading it, he’d take it back to be ‘recycled’. Ha! I like kids like that! Street kid, but he’d taught himself English, and with his business acumen I bet he’s doing pretty well now (last time I was in PP was about 12 years ago – he must have been about twelve at the time).

      • You might track him down for me and see if he is now living somewhere like Birmingham? I ask because one of the many banes of my life is : WTF do I do with The Bestes Frau’s sodding daily “Daily Xenophobe,Brexϟϟhiter and Homeopath”?!?!? Which cost me a small fortune each month and I end filling up the ‘Green’ bin with (here in Norfolk actually a grey bin whereas the ‘black’ bin is green….NWA [Norfolk Wins Again] ). I mean I keep a small pile to hand if the washing machine should leak or for general cleaning duties.  The Bestes Frau looks at the pictures of Royal ba-a-a-y-y-y-y-b-e-e-s and that’s it. Things look mint.

  2. In western countries the minimum wage makes it unviable to sort plastics for recycling.

    As mentioned, in Asian countries such as China and the Philippines, even in rich cities, you can just leave anything that might be recyclable (including non-rechargeable batteries) next to a bin at night and it will be gone by the morning.

  3. In the UK, lightweight plastic bags have been largely outlawed on the basis that plastic pollution of the oceans is a huge problem. Trouble is, I’ve heard that the problem is plastic fishing line not plastic bags.  Someone read about it, missed the fishing reference and simply jumped to the wrong conclusion. So outlawing and/or taxing bags is of no use whatsoever in combating ocean pollution.

    • Yes.

      Series of blunders turned the plastic bag into global villain
      Times 2008

      The central claim of campaigners is that the bags kill more than 100,000 marine mammals and one million seabirds every year. However, this figure is based on a misinterpretation of a 1987 Canadian study in Newfoundland, which found that, between 1981 and 1984, more than 100,000 marine mammals, including birds, were killed by discarded nets. The Canadian study did not mention plastic bags.

      Fifteen years later in 2002, when the Australian Government commissioned a report into the effects of plastic bags, its authors misquoted the Newfoundland study, mistakenly attributing the deaths to “plastic bags”.

      The figure was latched on to by conservationists as proof that the bags were kill
      ers. For four years the “typo” remained uncorrected. It was only in 2006 that
      the authors altered the report, replacing “plastic bags” with “plastic debris”. But they admitted: “The actual numbers of animals killed annually by plastic
      bag litter is nearly impossible to determine.”
      In a postscript to the correction they admitted that the original Canadian study had referred to fishing tackle, not plastic debris, as the threat to the marine environment.”
      https: //

      Incidental catch of marine birds and mammals in fishing nets off Newfoundland, Canada

      “Summer surveys of the incidental catch of marine birds and mammals in fishing nets around the east coast of Newfoundland indicated that over 100 000 animals were killed in nets during a 4-year period (1981–1984). Composition of catches depended on foraging behaviour, regional abundance, and the degree of foraging aggregation of different species. Highest incidental catches occurred in conjunction with the inshore spawning migration of capelin (Mallotus villosus), and the numbers of capelin predators caught varied with capelin abundance. Seabird by-catch was highest in the vicinity of major breeding colonies, decreasing rapidly with distance from these sites. In some years and locations, net-mortality may have constituted the greatest source of adult mortality for some species’ populations.”

  4. I’ve still got a drum of DDT from the 60s (remember the 60s? Cos I don’t). Does it count as hazardous? I’m too fond of the stuff do give it away. It kills everything in the garden including the neighbour’s pets. Save’s me from shooting them.

  5. Tony,

    Hong Kong still has the dreaded plastic bag slicks which seem to meander around the main island as well as the outlying ones, especially as the land reclamation between the island and Kowloon had altered the tidal flow. Go to any beach in Hong Kong and you will see local families and groups of youngsters enjoying picnics and barbecues. Just before leaving, they collect all the plastic, tinfoil, charcoal and uneaten food and carefully place them in plastic carrier bags. One of the group is delegated to dispose of this carefully collected rubbish. Ignoring the large waste bins placed prominently along the beach, he (it is usually a he) wades into the sea and holds the bag under water until it fills up. He then let’s go of the bag, which seems to hover between the surface and the sea bed, walks out of the sea, rejoins his group and they go off happy in the knowledge that they have left a clean beach behind. Don’t forget that, one day, these people will rule the world.

  6. Ireland of course had to be one of the first [if not the first] to introduce a tax on plastic bags.  It is a very rare case of something that actually seems to have worked.  In the past it was common to see tattered and torn plastic bags fluttering from trees and bushes or just drifting along roads like tumbleweed.  They are a rare sight these days which I suppose is something to be grateful for.  They were handy though for putting rubbish in.  Did anyone here ever try cleaning hot ashes into a plastic bag?  😀

  7. If it was explosive I would bring it out to the field behind the house and have some fun.

    Did you ever mix sodium chlorate with sugar, then add a match? Great fun for us kids: back in my early teenaged years, the late sixties,  Boots the Chemist (as was then) used to sell SC as weedkiller, about one shilling per pound in yellow tins. Larger sizes were available. Clouds of choking smoke, not much else. But should one confine the mixture it was quite possible to blow off a finger or two. We were careful; even at 13 we had in-built risk-assessment abilities.

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