Archive for the ‘Recycle’ Tag

Deposit Paid, Recycling Assured

recycleOne way we used to get a few extra pennies as kids was to scavenge for empty beer and soft drink bottles. Depending on their size you got 3 to 6 old pence per bottle, not a lot now but for someone who got a shilling (5p) for pocket money, a couple of empties were a big financial boost. Slowly during the early 1960 a new innovation, the non-returnable bottle appeared and our route to a few extra sweets was lost.

Some countries kept the deposit paid system and, with the move towards recycling, have made it compulsory. Walking through the streets of most big German cities you will see people scoring the litter bins and hidden places where empty beer and soda bottles may have been discarded. These individuals are doing this social duty as a necessity, most being unemployed and often homeless.

Its an intriguing thought that what once helped to sustain us as kids is now providing money for the very poor and ensuring the majority of bottles get recycled. There has been very little discussion in the UK about the reintroduction of the deposit paid bottle. It’s probably something the drinks industry would strongly object to happening, however, its clearly a very successful recycling strategy and one long over due in this country.


Inquiring Mind Or Destructive Intentions

One of the many reasons I used to get in trouble as a kid was my over inquisitive nature that often resulted in household appliances being taken a part never to work again. Occasionally an important bit of the vacuum cleaner would be commandeered for a completely different purpose as I constructed some fantastic, but entirely non-functioning machine as part of the intricate world I had created in my mind.

At the start these imaginary escapades caused untold problems for my parents but eventually provided the skills and knowledge to become a bodger; someone who could get broken things working or reuse bits of broken things as something new and useful. Then came miniaturisation, sealed units and the dreaded words, ‘No user serviceable parts’. When something went wrong there was no alternative but to dump the old one and buy a replacement. The throw away society had arrived.

However bodgers around the world fought back, changed their name to hackers and started to seek ways in which all the new technology, that now surrounds us, can be recycled into new and interesting devices. is a web site with many interesting examples of how the mundane can become the intriguing. Perhaps its time to pick up a screwdriver.

Make Do And Mend

My mother wasted very little; she saved newspapers and folded them into tight strips for fire lighting. Newspaper was also used to wrap food waste and act as mats under muddy shoes. Paper bags were kept for packed lunches, keeping vegetables clean (The Greengrocer used to put root vegetables loose in your shopping bag along with quite a bit of mud) or just used to keep bits and pieces tidy. The paper wrapped around a block of butter and lard was kept for greasing cooking bowls and baking tins. Old sheets were cut up and used as pudding cloths. Worn out cotton clothes went in the rag-bag to be used for particularly dirty cleaning tasks. Old jumpers were unpicked and re-knitted as something new. As a recycler she, and most housewives in post war Britain were very expert.

As far as food was concerned everything got eaten unless it was too rancid, mouldy or just off. Old bread reappeared as dark, spicy, bread-pudding or sweet and fruity bread and butter pudding. The remains of the Sunday roast were minced up for cottage, shepherd’s or sty pie. Cooked vegetables became bubble-and-squeak, and best of all the dripping saved from the roasting pan was used for bread and scrape, literally a sandwich of beef fat and jelly. The chicken carcass and beef bones were boiled to make stock or mixed with vegetables to make soup. After making a pie the leftover pastry was filled with jam or mincemeat to make turnovers. Stale cake made a second appearance in trifles and puddings,

Much of this knowledge is starting to be re-learnt by a generation that has just lived through a time of plenty, convenience and the ‘I want it now’ culture. The current turmoil may not leave families in the same financial difficulties that have existed in the past but it may just make them appreciate the value of a more frugal life. Now, where is the darning needle and wool.