Startled by a skip

End of term and, having successfully avoided the Leavers’ Service, Boy the Younger and I wandered down the road towards the car, clutching armfuls of books, drawings, sewing, and all the other detritus collected over a school year.

Then, on the outskirts of my, highly trained, peripheral vision, I spied a skip at the side of the road.  Ah-haaa.  “Hang on Chap,” I said, “I just need to look in this ’ere skip”.  Groans all round.  But not nearly as loud as the groans I groaned when I saw what was in there.

12 x school dictionaries – used but useable
1 x large bag of size 12-14, immaculate clothing
1 x large bag of baby toys – good condition
2 x large books of children’s sample wallpapers – excellent for craft use

And all, bar a few of the baby toys, spoiled by the rain.

How much effort would it have taken for someone to drop that stuff in at a charity shop in a black bin liner?  I know one shouldn’t do it, but if necessary, pop it on the step on your way past.  As a last resort, put it in a bin liner and label the bags so the refuse men might just sort it at the tip.  Supermarkets now have weatherproof  re-cycling bins that can be accessed day or night, so there’s not really any excuse.  The contents of that skip will now end up in landfill.

We must stop wasting.   I’m not asking everyone to fashion their stained shirts into useful pinnies, use single socks to make cosy sleeping bags for hamsters or even knit their leftover spaghetti into a warm vest.  And whatever you do, don’t actually use your toenail clippings to make a nutty Bubble and Squeak.   Just think before you treat something which could be a valuable resource to someone else with profligate contempt.  There are schools in the third world that would give their eye teeth for a dozen English dictionaries and if I was a size 12, I would have snaffled the clothing, but any of the charity shops would have been grateful for it.  The Parents and Toddlers groups at any of the churches would have loved the toys.

We are running out of land. Land on which we should be growing food is being sold off for housing developments or more offices that will sit empty and we will never get that land back again.  Landfill sites are getting bigger and bigger and although many domestic tips are really making an effort with recycling, and opening areas where they sell on the decent stuff, we have to make the effort on the home front.

We have been in recession and now we are facing a period of essential austerity in an attempt to correct it.  Put away your storecards, hide your credit cards to be used in emergencies only; take stock of what you have, appreciate it and make the most of it.  Go mad – save up for something.  Learn some basic skills so you can bring out your creative side and make things last a little longer.  I assure you that if someone comes into your house and admires something you’ve made yourself, it’s worth every bit of effort. Smug Factor 50.  Job done.


Filed under Re-use Recycle, Tips, Skips and Scavenging

14 responses to “Startled by a skip

  1. Yes, but you are preaching to the choir.
    Although I had not thought of knitting leftover spaghetti into a sweater. Hmmm

  2. Jean Clare

    I once read about a village on a small island that had a community ‘shed’ where people could leave usable, but not needed, items. These items would then be picked up by someone else who needed them. I always thought this was a great idea for any neighbourhood!!

  3. wartimehousewife

    Welcome to both Jean Clare and Old Fool.

    I absolutely love that idea of a community shed. I suppose it’s the off-line, tangible version of Freebay.

    With regard to “preaching to the choir”, I do get your point but I have a wider readership than you might think and I have to start somewhere.

  4. Hello there, I found you via Sue ‘the quince tree’ I must say you are so right, have to wonder if the recession was not a ‘higher’ entity attempting to get the message across that we all need to get back to basics, grow your own vegies, stop the ‘throw away’ mentality, get back to ‘community’ where we all look out for each other. It seems that overall we have become a selfish, disrespectful (to each other and the land we live on) quick fix society. So much waste of food and resources. Such an imbalance of feast and famine. I do my little bit to recycle etc. I notice on the blogs that most ladies are all on the same page with this which is great to see.

    • wartimehousewife

      Welcome Sandi – glad to see the blogging network is thriving!

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head; we all have to start at a personal and domestic level and hope that the ideology spreads. Teach by example blah blah blah. I look forward to hearing from you again.

  5. Lady B

    Your comment about about “save for something” is so valid. Nowadays it seems that hardly anyone actually saves up for things – they want something and they have to buy it straight away, so the credit card takes a hit. It is probably against their human rights or civil liberties are some such to actually have to wait.

    • wartimehousewife

      Do you know Lady B, I think you’ve sparked an idea that I’ve been thinking about for a while, which ties up with some other thoughts. Watch this space.

  6. penny

    We have awonderful resource in our community a yahoo group called freecycle. People post what they want or have available and evey morning a email goes out with all the postings. Yesterdays post included a wood stove and a washing machine. I have acquired a treadmill, bookshelves and a bag of glass paint supplies. I have given away some old knitting needles and left over wool and a dresser. I look forward to my morning email. Now if I could only figure out how to get that very heavy wood stove home.

    • Decided to see if freecyle operates near where I live – it does!

      Thanks very much for drawing my attention to it – unfortunately I can see it becoming yet another thing to stop me going to bed at a beneficial hour! However, have just offered someone some packing boxes that they wanted which have been cluttering up a corner of the dining room – hoorah.

  7. Hmmmm…a tad on the lib tree hugger side for me and as for running out of landfill space, well just untrue.

    • wartimehousewife

      It depends on what you want the country to look like Thud, and whether the land after the landfill is filled is fit for anything else. Even the most fastidious of waste disposal experts contend with the problems of leachate and what happens when the collection infrastructure fails.

      Likewise the covers are subject to erosion, impact from burrowing creatures and the drying effects of sunlight and ultra-violet radiation. If the cover is breached, this can allow rainwater to enter the leachate system which can then overflow and further contaminate the site, rendering it unsuitable for anything. The cost of decontaminating these sites is vast and regrettably it tends to end up being social housing that’s built on them, not executive homes, which are directed to greenfield sites.

      This is a huge subject which is impossible to deal with in this forum, but it’s one which is going to affect us all eventually if we continue to produce waste at such an alarming level.

      • Morag

        Thud is also entirely wrong. One of my closest friends was the Waste Recycling Officer for her local council for many years, and she informs me that there are already counties in the UK who are exporters of their landfill waste (to China, I think), because they have nowhere to put it. Perhaps a visit to a real landfill site might be in order for Thud.

        I continue to be shocked by how little awareness people have about throwing away perfectly good items. I was getting rid of the boys’ potty from when they were toddlers. It had come to me secondhand and was in exactly the same condition. A friend of mine visited and asked why I was bothering to put it on Freecycle when I could “just chuck it.” Well, I could, by why not save another family a few pounds and the landfill site from more unnecessary waste?

  8. I’d ere on the side of caution regarding giving items to charity shops.
    I worked as a stock collector for one of the major national charities for over 9 years.
    It’s highly dependent on the shop manager as to what actually gets on to the shelves.
    Considering many large charities misguided rush to compete with high street brands it’s doubtful if any of the items you mentioned finding would ever be put on sale.

    I’ve seen, and rescued, far to many ‘treasures’ that had been thrown in the bin because they didn’t fit the current policy.

    Wait till closing time and hit the wheelie bins at the back of the shop is my advice.

    O.S.M. B:52

    • wartimehousewife

      That’s really interesting OSB52. We are blessed with a really good selection of charity shops in Harborough as well as an Age Concern bookshop which is superb. Being an obsessive non-waster, I target my goods quite carefully. Really good clothes are sent t one shop, books to another and vids to another which I know takes them. Shoes go to one of three bins at Sainsbury’s (I always choose the Sally Army) and the dictionaries would have gone in the book deposit bin. At the very least they are mulched for road surfacing. But as you rightly point out, not everyone is in a position to do that. What did you think of Jean Clare’s comment (ibid) about the community shed?

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