Monday 4 February 2008

Boilers and Kitchens and Rubbish... oh my!

Today our house is a hive of activity (unfortunate for my day off and planned R&R). The workman has arrived to fix our boiler (hurrah) and in a matter of days the house will be a haven of heat and hot water again! I've been reasonably impressed so far. The materials came in advance of the works starting (about half eight on Saturday morning with a crash as some (hopefully not vital) piece of equipment was dropped). They turned up this morning (not as early as promised/threatened) and the chap has been busy working away ever since. Again with the loud crashes at unreasonable hours, but in the name of hot water it can be overlooked!

Yesterday afternoon, for reasons best known to myself, I decided to tidy the kitchen. The urge takes me every so often, but I never get very far. Our kitchen is very small, and completely lacking in storage space. It will be even worse in a few months when the broken down dresser is scrapped and replaced by a new fridge-freezer, but I guess we'll worry about that when the time comes. The broken dresser is a state. All the drawers are falling to bits, so stuff spills out of the bottom. The shelves are a mixture of food (herbs, spices and onions), the bread bin, the coffee machine and more cook books than anyone could need (although a fraction of my father's impressive library!). The state of this dresser has infected the surrounding area where the compost type bags have been abandoned on the floor next to the kick-stool which itself is a home for several different pairs of gardening gloves. Getting the picture? Chaos. Guess why this is. The kitchen is my responsibility. The living room (Rich's domain) is a haven of order and tidiness (it also has more storage). My attempt at organisation spread through the cupboard where the tins and packets are kept (mince pies in February!) and carried on to the fridge.

The fridge has recently had an upset. The thermostat got knocked (somehow) and froze everything at the extremities. Not good for vegetables. Many interesting jars were unearthed from the back... most of which were possibly considering experiments in the rise of new civilisations(!). Once upon a time these would have been tossed unceremoniously into the rubbish. Not under Greenwich Borough Council's new rubbish rules. These rules were clearly conceived by somebody who lives in Bexley or Lewisham and was therefore safe in the knowledge that they would never have to work with these systems.

Don't get me wrong. I'm as much for saving the planet as the next person. More than quite a lot of people actually. I have a huge collection of various re-usable shopping bags (most not even those lifetime plastic ones), I have been gradually switching to low energy bulbs, I always turn off the tap when I brush my teeth and try to only boil enough water for one cup... you get the picture. I also frequent a number of sites dedicated to changing attitudes and giving ideas for more sustainable living: We are What We Do, The Big Green Switch, I Count and Planetary Actions to name just four (and trust me, there are more!). These sites all work on the basis that many people making small changes will make a big difference, we can but try.

At some point though, common sense needs to prevail. And this "Blue, Green, Black" scheme the Council has foisted upon us appears ill-conceived. The amount of effort that needs to be put in to correctly separate rubbish is not insignificant. Take my fridge cleaning. Items which needed to be thrown away as they had passed their use by dates included: a lump of cheese encased in was, a box of microwavable sausages, three pairs wrapped in plastic in a cardboard box, a pot of jam, a pot of pesto, a tube of cheese, a tube of chilli... you get the picture. Formerly these items would have been buzzed into the bin in-situ. New rules mean that the contents must be emptied into a compostable bag (or straight to the bin) and the containers rinsed and put into the blue-top bin. I ended up with a vile compost bag full of food remnants and a hefty dose of washing up. A less enthusiastic person would have given up. The smell of the food waste nearly made me! It has to be done though. Improperly separated rubbish is not collected, as other local residents have noted.

I guess (hope) over time we will get used to it... maybe it will become second nature. I'm not sure that I'll ever get used to the smell though!