Reusing

I've become pretty iffy about recycling as per those attractive colour coded bins that are seen (or I once saw) as proof of how environmentally progressive a council is.

So we send out our rubbish into special containers and the plastic gets shipped to China where they have more plastic than they can cope with a anyway and it gets turned into more plastic in unsavoury conditions. We put our glass empties into another container and that may sit in Christchurch doing nothing because there is no market for recycled glass. The cans may or may not be recycled as the world prices for many of these commodities is below the cost of getting them out of New Zealand to these markets.

Is all this fuel for the global transport of our rubbish ethically defensible?

I wonder if historians in fifty years will view the global recycling process as early 21st century imperialism. Rich world super-consumers dump their crap on poor countries and feel virtuous into the bargain.

In our part of the West Coast, recycling facilities, by rich world city standards, are abysmal. But that does mean that we have to deal with our own crap locally. It does mean that for the most part no poor bugger in China has to contend with our baked beans can or plastic milk bottle on his shanty doorstep.

Whereas reusing things, I am very enthusiastic about. In the weekend Favourite Handyman set to fixing up the Poultry Palace. Our stash of mesh netting, gifted to us by friends and neighbours as they cleared out their garages and knew we would find a use for it, came in very handy. We have used driftwood and gifted wood for all of our garden projects and for much of our small building projects. The tree hut is reuse city, as is the sandpit. The lean-to has some new wood and the rest reused wood.

My new Kenwood mixer from Mum is also a reuse, although only in the sense of having a new owner. I made a chocolate cake in it this afternoon and admired the perfectly smooth mixture it created. The children loved the cake, which is an Edmonds recipe. I was pleased with it but not so fond of the icing. I've been converted to the lusciousness of cafe chocolate cakes with their indulgent icing. Icing sugar with a bit of cocoa and some butter just doesn't cut it for me any more.

Last week I pulled undone the lovely variegated green cardigan which no longer fits Brighid. I have been unable to give it away, only the second knitted item I have ever made for her which she has outgrown. The first is a merino singlet but I am not reknitting 4 ply. I'm not sure I ever want to knit in 4 ply again. So I am reknitting the green variegated wool. I found an extra unused ball of the same wool so have enough to make a larger something.

When Brighid is out of nappies completely, I will pass on the shaped nappies and wraps/covers. But I do fancy making something else out of the muslins and the red stripe New Zealand flannel squares. They are lovely and soft and given that they are 100% cotton, they should take dye beautifully. I'm sure I could convert them into something sensible like washable menstrual pads or cleaning cloths, but I fancy something more creative. I can see in my mind a skirt of panels of dyed fabric with the fabric colours changing hue (unless I have a lobotomy, there will be no tie dye). I guess the red stripe nappies would convert to shopping bags easily enough, though even that seems more ruthlessly practical than I fancy at the moment. Brighid is our last baby and doing something significant with the nappy squares strikes me as a way of marking the changes in our family life.

Comments

Sharonnz said…
Our council has just stopped recycling plastics 3-5 after briefly flirting with it. It means we do more PREcycling, as we stand in the supermarket overthinking whether to buy those items now. Yes indeed, colonising the third world with our rubbish.
Hubby was VERY excited when I handed him a pile of flat cotton nappies. They are his shed rags par excellence. He still goes on about how good they are;-)
Corrine said…
I do a lot more precycling now as well. Dumping our recycled plastic on another country makes me sick, but hope is on the horizon. Did you see the news story about the Waiheke Island inititive that recycles their plastic into heavy duty garden edges and compost bins? More and more people will think outside the square and come up with answers...someone else has thought of a way to compost disposable nappies...another town down south is looking at using worm farms for sewage waste. All these things give me hope that one day we will be able to pick up our own mess and use it again too.
Precycling and the Waiheke story are new to me. Precycling. Thank you. Time I did some more reading (I won't entertain the thought of getting a tv) and google for the Waiheke story.

I have saved my brown paper bags from my last Piko order of dried beans and pulses for soaking up bacon or sausage fat. I remember my Mum using the brown paper from shop packages like this and loving the crackle of watching it burn on the fire afterwards. Much better than plastic clingfilm.

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