by the Rambler 26/04/2002
WHEN I lived on the home farm 60 years ago disposal of waste and scrap was not a big problem.
Plastics had not been discovered vet anti we hall wooden, wicker, paper and jute containers, all of which went up in smoke at the end of their useful lives.
Metal wasn't so easily disposed of, but space wasn't scarce, and mostly- scrap metal, including obsolete implements, was ditched and left to lie and rust. Scrap dealers rarely called..
It wasn't unusual for in old metal bed or a sheet of zinc (corrugated iron) to find a place in a fence. Holes in hedges bad to be blocked!
Washing machines, fridges, chest freezers, metal baths and those kind of things, were not in vogue. Well, occasionally an old bath was turfed out by some of the 'toffs' who had bathrooms. When that happened, they were promptly utilised as a drinking trough in the corner of a grazing field.
Pre-war, Lisburn rural council did not provide a bin service in country districts. Ashes went into the farmyard midden, and from thence to a drill in a potato field with the rest of the organic manure.
Wicker baskets made grand firelighters, and once a good bonfire was burning, even decayed jute sacks didn't last long.
Paraffin oil was cheap and used liberally to stoke outside fires. With debris from a thorn hedge and a drop of paraffin oil we could have burned an iceberg!
Many new fabrics and new appliances have come on the scene since I became a 'townie'. Luckily, local authorities provide a free collection service for rubbish which is too large for the household 'wheelie' bin.
Now the councils are in trouble. Disposing of fridges is an example locally.
Re-cycling of glass and plastics is another, not forgetting old motor vehicles.
The volume of packaging which goes into the average domestic bin must surely be curtailed. Bubble packs are a menace. Take the battery for a domestic smoke alarm as just one example or the wrapper of sweet meats.
I have just been reading about a new EU Directive 'WEEE' for short, which is winding its way through the law-making machine at Brussels.
The aim is to require companies that produce electrical and electronic equipment to recover and re-cycle defined percentages of the waste products when the equipment ha, reached the end of their useful life.
Products include computers, telephones, television, radios, fridges and washing machines.
As a long retired ex-bureaucrat, I find this an appealing vista. We are already submerged in a sea of EU Directives.
When an appliance becomes obsolete who is going to trace the producer? Mind boggling! Sadly it will no longer be permissible to throw it in a sheugh - mother earth can no longer cope with the volume of poisonous waste that our modern consumer society is expelling.
Somebody, somewhere will have to clean up the act. Abolish those bubble packs for starters!