ImageWe’ve just received a letter from Galway City Council saying that they are discontinuing their bin collection service. Our bins will shortly be collected  by a private company instead. This has made me unhappy.

When we first moved to Galway  I knew that a number of different private bin companies in the area collected rubbish and these bin services may well be slightly cheaper  and come more frequently  etc. However I still preferred the idea of the council doing  it as it seemed to me to be more of a community effort. In my eyes a private bin company would exist mainly for profit and making money (while providing an essential service)

I was thinking about this yesterday at my compost bin.
By composting my vegetable waste and reducing the weight of my brown bin over the year it means that I will be charged less by the bin company as the bin will have to be collected less often.
If everyone in the area started doing this and the number of brown bins being collected reduced it would be bad for a business that makes profit by collecting your rubbish.
I don’t think that a private bin company has any reason to encourage people to stop putting waste and rubbish out. In fact, it is better for business if people put out more rubbish. More rubbish bins means more money for the company.

I realize that councils are far from perfect either but I think that there is more chance of householders/businesses in Galway being encouraged to reduce the amount of waste they put out for collection if the council is having to deal with it.  There is a section on their website for example that tells us

‘Waste prevention should always be the first step in waste management. Rather than thinking ‘what bin should I put this item in?’, think ‘did I really need this item in the first place?’.

By not generating waste, we can eliminate the need to handle, transport, treat and dispose of waste. We can also avoid having to pay for these services. So next time you shop, think about the waste that you are not only paying for once, but twice as you pay for its disposal later.’

If you are a private bin company then ‘eliminating the need to handle, transport, treat and dispose of waste‘ is the last thing you’d want to do!


biscuit tin thing

I’ve become a man obsessed with trying to make a stringed instrument out of some old can/biscuit tins so the house is now a tip and my hands have been shredded by the edges of biscuit tins. I wish I had a shed or a garage as well so that everything I need is there and a work bench, but would it be as much fun?

(The answer to that is yes, of course it would be more fun because H___ wouldn’t kill me for messing the house up. Again!)
So here is today’s model. I’ve learned a lot about what not to do and need a tuning peg system that works, not just some nuts and bolts drilled in the wrong place.

redeeming the by-products

This is a sight familiar to us all, the daily bag of rubbish to be sorted and recycled.

During 2011 I walked back and forth between our green bin exactly 29,432 times which would have taken me 3/4’s of the way to the moon if I had walked in a straight line.

There is something deeply troubling about trying to live less greedily because basically it seems like there is no escape from waste.

There is no escape from the bain of my life, the 2L milk carton and 400ml tins of plum tomatoes. There is no escape from the paper that clogs up the bins.

John Seymour, author of ‘The Complete Book of Self Sufficiency’ (a magic book) said

‘The dustman need never visit the smallholder’

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams went even further with his statement that

‘God doesn’t do waste’

and William Morris penned these words.

‘I tell you that the very essence of competitive commerce is waste’

So perhaps waste is a sign of our sinfulness or the way that THE SYSTEM has got us trapped and bound up, that we’re slaves to THE WORLD.

Perhaps a trip to the bin might require us to be humble because it

a) reminds us that we’re not God and we’re trapped in an oppressive system that we can never hope to escape unless by some miracle
b) that we’re living on a planet of limited resources that is dying no matter what we try or how wisely we try to live.

But at the same time  (and in my determination not to the let the darkness eat me up) there is redemption of all things and ‘God doesn’t do waste.’

There is the possibility of redemption and recreation even in what we might throw in the dustbin or discard as waste.

G.K Chesterton writes something in ‘What’s Wrong With the World’ that I could read all day, something that makes me want to go out and redeem the rubbish

“The most prosaic thing about the house is the dustbin…..If a man could undertake to make use of all things in his dustbin he would be a broader genius than Shakespeare. When science began to use by-products; when science found that colors could be made out of coaltar, she made her greatest and perhaps her only claim on the real respect of the human soul.
Now the aim of the good woman is to use the by-products, or, in other words, to rummage in the dustbin.”

Redeeming the by-products, rummage in the bin. Make rocket stoves out of tin cans, plant herbs in milk cartons, make compost.