Bin Night

We are encouraged these days to separate all the rubbish that we produce by putting it into three bins – one for organic waste, one for recyclables, and one for landfill material. The instructions for sorting are quite explicit and it’s not that hard to direct material properly. But the whole thing – plus the hectoring Facebook posts from faceless organisations – begs the question of who should be dealing with it and when.

I suspect that the corporations packaging food, textiles, paper goods, and all sorts of other consumer goods are the real culprits behind the waste explosion. They make the boxes, plastic wraps, moulded trays, containers, and whatever else is filling those bins every week. And they have instituted a business model that passes the buck and/or the parcel to us.

Take the business of soft drinks and beer. Once exclusively in glass containers – then changed to steel cans – then aluminium – then to PET bottles. And now we need to rinse out the bottles and segregate them and someone in the council has to try to squash them and recycle them back to somewhere – while the oil resources that are used to make the bottles get ever more scarce.

Go.Back.To.The.Glass.Bottle. Let it out as a container that delivers the fluid and then take it back as a container that can be refilled for the next delivery. Pay a pittance for this recovery, but pay something. You will be amazed at how swiftly the stream of returned bottles starts to flow. And how soon people will accept the idea of re-usable bottles.

Sell bread in paper wrappers. Sell veggies in them too – you always used to do so.

Sell fewer electronic coffee machines boxed in polystyrene – also sell fewer of everything else and make the stuff you do sell repairable. And be delighted with how people will accept the idea of using up something and then repairing it so they can use it some more. Sell spare parts, at an acceptable price.

The bottom line is always money with the corporations, so they are the people to whom hectoring government can apply for redress.


The Little World – Scrooge McModeller Looks At the Empty Box

I am delighted to say that I have finished another 1:72 airplane kit. It came out pretty much the way I envisaged it and I did not make any major botch-ups. It will take its place in the collection and be duly photographed. All is well.

No it isn’t.

Scrooge McModeller here has just looked into the empty box and counted the number of extra parts still attached to the sprues – variant parts not needed for the aircraft type that was being built. Of course, they will be preserved for use in future projects, and may be glued onto a motor vehicle, ship, or dinosaur as future occasion demands. But that leaves the question of the sprues. Even if you carefully separate, catalogue, and store the useful bits there is still going to be nearly the weight of the finished model in discard sprues – plastic I paid for that is destined for the waste bin. The Scottish ancestors I do not have would have been aghast, if they had existed…

What can you do with the sprues? They are likely to be of wildly different colours and may even be of markedly different composition – at least it feels like that when you are knifing through the plastic. And they are nearly always awkward shapes and sizes – so they are unlikely to be structural parts for future large-scale pieces.

I did envisage cutting off the side pieces and using the long straight bits for paint mixing stick but found that the effort needed to trim them far outweighed the benefit – and the round-section sprue made a poor job of it in the paint bottles. I gather coffee stirring sticks wherever I go for that purpose.

I should be tempted to melt them down again and press them into a new shape if I knew how to heat them up safely and had moulds that would take them. I suspect that the liquidised polystyrene plastic would still not be very runny and that it would not be possible to just pour it into a mould like plaster or resin.

You understand my desire to reuse the sprues is not ecological concern at all – I regularly hunt dolphins with arsenic bullets now that the unicorns are gone – it is parsimony. I hate wasting something that was paid for. You might say that of the cardboard boxes that the kits come in, but I save these and cut them apart for building material and spray platforms so they get full use.

And frugal ideas from the readership would be greatly appreciated.