Doing the ‘green’ thing

Published: 03:28PM Nov 17th, 2011
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Following on from my last month’s mutterings on metal thefts and the less than scrupilous types that will sacrifice the gamble of being frazzled alive to nick copper signalling cable, readers have mentioned to me that ‘scrappies’ are now a regular feature at vintage auctions, whereby the ‘nod’ is not just to the auctioneer but to another gang of scrappies in order to ‘div up’ the spoils and thereby whose turn it is for the next lot.

Doing the ‘green’ thing

Katrina and the waves: Two ex-Hollycombe engines in the shape of John Rackham’s Aveling & Porter tractor No 6298 of 1907 Little Lucy and Daniel Finnegan’s Garrett 4CD showman’s tractor No 32981 of 1917, now called Katrina, await unloading on October 29, prior to taking part in the Sussex seaside town of Littlehampton’s traditional bonfire night parade. JAMES HAMILTON

This is a worrying development. The kind of ‘sortout’ event held by the likes of Jim Wilkie are perfect hunting grounds for stuff like spare Fergie radiators and, in turn they do much to help restoration projects along – with the added bonus that we are doing the fashionable ‘eco’ thing – recycling.

Vintage restoration of course is all about recycling. And we were doing it long before it became the ‘thing to do’, at a time when the very word ‘recycling’ had a kind of hippy connotation to it.

Wind power? Solar power? We harnessed these every washday, simply by hanging clothes out to dry and not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts.

Green bin? Not necessary, we had a compost heap.

Nowadays, I would have to take my car on a 24-mile round trip if I wished to recycle glass. So I don’t. Forty years ago we returned our milk bottles, the ‘Corona man’ took back your soft drink bottles and the ‘offy’ counter at the back of the pub took back the beer bottles (which, in turn, gave us crisps money!) All these bottles were washed, sterilised and refilled.

One dustbin took everything because we didn’t have the ridiculous packaging around grocery items. The wet fish man wrapped goods in newspaper and it was straight into mum’s shopping bag, as were fruit, butchery items and everything else.

That same wet fish shop and the butchers are now a kebab takeaway and a pizza takeaway – and the associated packaging is strewn everywhere.

Think about it further: We had towelling nappies that were ‘recycled’, we drank water from the tap if we were thirsty, we refilled our pens with ink and dad just changed the blades on his razor – not the whole razor.

We walked or took the bus to school, often in ‘recycled’ hand-me-down clothes. We had one radio in the house, not a TV in every room. In the kitchen we blended and stirred by hand rather than waiting for the microwave to ‘ping’.

We exercised by working so one didn’t need to go to a health club to run on electric treadmills. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances.

So the next time the young supermarket cashier asks if you want a ‘bag for life’ (no spouse jokes here) and how wasteful your generation are because you dared to ask for a plastic bag and don’t look after the environment, remember that we didn’t have the ‘green thing’ back then.

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