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Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Waste management category.

Every Little Helps – April 2012


Every Little HelpsOnce again this year, there’s been another very dry winter (rainfall has been below average for 19 out of the past 24 months), with the likelihood of local hosepipe bans. Last year I wrote about water use from a gardener’s perspective: micro-watering and collecting in butts. I checked the drought provision: micro-watering is OK (but re-filling our fish pond by hosepipe isn’t).

What about saving water in the house? In the Thames Water area, a household with 4 people uses over 600 litres a day. Their online water usage calculator says we use around 590 litres a day … that’s all fresh drinking water by the way. Our family’s main aim is to reduce the amount we use in showering from 400 litres to the average 100 litres (teenagers take note).

Thames Water offer free water-saving devices: bags for the loo cistern (flush with less water), tap inserts and so on. My favourite is a shower timer (like for eggs, but this one sticks on the shower wall and tells you when to get out).

Secondary schools use on average 1,000 litres of water per pupil per year. The government’s “wise up to water” web site helps schools to reduce their costs by educating students, staff and parents about saving water. On average, a school could save £1,500 per year with simple water saving actions (and 7,000 m3 of water too).

I’ll bet as you’re reading this it’s raining cats and dogs … if not, perhaps we should all think ahead. We will be collecting rainwater in dustbins whenever we can from now on and eventually get a butt installed. Thames Water say it’s not possible to predict when the hosepipe ban will be lifted, so it could be a long, dry summer for our pond fish.

Thames Water

Saving Water at School

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Every Little Helps – September 2011


Every Little HelpsLast month saw the worst and best behaviour I’ve seen in London. It’s still with me as I write this. I dislike moralising: being “the first to cast a stone” would be hypocritical and rather ironic. However, rampant consumerism must have influenced decisions people made to steal what they wanted: electronic goods, designer clothes but not books or (much) food. Unthinking, uncaring of consequences, selfish, rapacious, devastating.

Then came the amazing heart-warming local community response to the aftermath: donating goods and services, voluntary clean ups, sharing homes, remonstrating and standing up for what’s right. Generous, mindful, creative, energising, cooperative.

In bringing people together with a common purpose, what permanent positive changes will this have? I can’t avoid thinking of parallels with how our day-to-day buying decisions can effect the local and global environment, directly or indirectly.

Last year I wrote about over-buying and waste management – this year there’s a real possibility of two-weekly rubbish collections, charging for household waste tipping and the collapse of the waste disposal market (for lack of commercial places to put it). This could lead to an increase in fly-tipping and littering, but it would be great if the community response to waste was as effective as that following the riots.

Clearly it takes a lot to get the majority of people even to voice opposition to wrong thinking, let alone change the ways of life they are used to. That’s why there are scare stories about climate change: people who want change to happen try to motivate us through visions of the apocalypse. That doesn’t really change what we do.

Small acts of random kindness; thoughtfully choosing what we actually need; returning unnecessary packaging to sender; disposing of all waste appropriately – we can all do that. When we do it together, it makes a real difference, locally and long-term.

Here’s a place to help in Haringey



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