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.