Congratulations to Tory controlled Walsall Council

Actually that really should be the EU who’s legislation has managed to drag an area of UK environmental practices into the 20th century* but we’re dealing with the new recycling scheme we’ve got round these parts.

Bit of background. A fortnight ago we got a new wheelie bin. One of those 120 litre ones that is now designated for non-recyclable waste – it’s black btw. The old 240 litre green wheelie bin is now for recyclable waste only and we’re allowed to keep the old green box that was supposed to be for recycling.

Here’s how it should work. The 120 litre bin should be collected on weekly and the 240 litre on a fortnightly basis. All good stuff although I’m curious as to whether the council would have bothered if it weren’t for the EU threatening to impose massive fines on councils but in general terms I like this arrangement as opposed to the previous ‘system’.

Given that Walsall MBC failed to collect my recycling box for the five years I had it and our genuinely positive attitude towards recycling here at Penguin Central I was looking forward to see how the new system would pan out.

A fortnight in and our black bin was collected last week but not the recycling one which is fine because last week we had a couple of bags in it as an overhang of our rubbish that had accumulated before we were able to actually separate everything out. This week we managed to cut our non-recyclables down to a single bag which is pretty good going for a family of four but the recycling bin was getting dangerously close to capacity.

Today’s bin day in our parts and thankfully the recycling bin was emptied. Oddly though, our non-recyclables bin wasn’t. The bin men couldn’t have missed it, it was sitting next to the other bin they emptied so what exactly is all this about? We were promised by my favourite Tory Councillor Rachel Walker who apparently has responsibility for Environment that weekly collections for non-recyclables were guaranteed. If I was in a particularly sarcastic mood I guess I could say this was a case stealth fortnightly collections by the back door but I’m not, they might just have accidentally missed mine.

There is however an important point to this. In a situation where the ability to put out non-recyclables has effectively halved, a missed collection is even more problematic. It is in the end just a good job that we’ve been so good at sorting out our rubbish here which means we’ve still got plenty of space for this week.

That said, I think there should be a little more care taken in how the bins are put back after they’re emptied. The pavements on our road were strewn with bins all over the place this morning which makes me rather glad that I don’t use a wheelchair or motability scooter because I’d have had no chance. It could of course be a clever method of creating temporary chicanes to stop the kids riding their bikes fast on the pavement though.

Well done Tory Walsall council, after 5 years of not collecting my recycling box you’ve managed now not to collect my new non-recycling bin.

*That was deliberate.

A book review: The Big Earth Book by James Bruges

Every once in a while someone contacts me to review something so tonight folks, it’s book review time. “The Big Earth Book” by James Bruges, published by Sawday’s and printed by Cambridge University Press.

As it name suggests, it is qute big and I really should have penned this review a good three weeks ago but I’ve been busy undertaking (none shelf stacking) duties.

What’s it all about?

Well it covers a vast array of enviromental related topics, heavy on the issues of climate change and owing to recent events ties in elements of global finance, inequality and pretty much the future of our species.

Given it’s wide remit there are areas that I feel are stronger than others reflecting the author’s specialism but across the board it’s challenging in terms of some of the accepted wisdoms and practices of the way we humans go about things.

For me, the core interest despite my background in economics which kicks in later in the book is the first half around enviromental issues. The challenges of negating human detrimental impact on our environment and unlike it seems the current focus of by many writers and the media being around carbon emissions, it deals with the traditional concerns of environmentalists, that of actual pollution and importantly for me the degradation of soil quality across the world.

For me though it’s all very well reading about what are the problems but I’m interested in solutions and despite my trying to keep up with things and finding novel ways that we can negate our impact on the environment the one that stuck out the most for me was in India a scheme that uses wood to produce heat for cooking while also creating charcoal that can be used the enrich the land for growing crops without the use of agro-chemicals which I’d like to look into further.

So on the environmental side the book is strong and full of really interesting ideas but as it moves into the area of global finance there are some contradictions that seem to creep in. The proposition for a global currency against which all others are trading and key resources like oil can be set against instead of an individual countries currency at present like the dollar are classical Keynesian ideas which I’d have a lot of time for. However later it discusses the use of barter instead of currency where people trade their products and skills directly. Although this can and does in places work on a smaller scale it’s not a sensible means by which to run a global economy so I would have to be critical there.

That said there are some other interesting ideas like the Jak Bank in Sweden that works on the principle of not offering interest on saving. A bizarre concept at first for those used to our general model of banking in the West