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British Expat Newsletter:
19 October 2005

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.

In this issue

  • This week: Waste
  • Virtual Snacks
  • Bizarre Searches
  • Joke and quotation

This week

Sutton, which is the London borough where our UK house is, bills itself as London’s greenest borough. That’s not just a comment on the area of parkland or number of trees grown, although both are substantial. The council reckons it recycles 28% of the borough’s household waste, the best performance in London and on course to hit the government’s 30% target by March 2006. And just a couple of hundred yards from us there’s an imaginative new housing estate called BedZED (Beddington Zero Energy Development), built with the council’s backing on an old sewage works, which claims to generate no carbon emissions whatsoever. The houses are also designed and planned to reduce demand on water resources, cut down on use of private vehicles and make recycling easier.

A large part of the reason the council is so keen to promote recycling is the problem of landfill – and the need to reduce it. Currently about 80% of the UK’s domestic waste goes into landfill, whereas (according to Friends of the Earth) about 80% could be recycled or composted. This is a massive waste of resources, as well as taking up scarce land which could be put to better use. And what a contrast with waste processing in, for instance, Bangladesh, where household waste is reckoned to go through seven different pairs of hands before all the reusable material has been taken out of it.

All this has been brought to the front of our minds in the process of getting our house ready to go on the market. Having done all the decorating, lawn laying and kitchen building tasks, we’re now down to clearing out the loft and planning what will happen to our remaining furniture (the stuff the tenant didn’t totally destroy or make off with).

As luck would have it, just a couple of miles away there’s a British Heart Foundation charity shop which happily takes second-hand furniture and domestic appliances. They clean and fix them, if necessary, and sell them on. This adds to their coffers as well as providing a means for less well-off people to buy some good stuff at knock-down prices. Having just built a gas hob into our new worktop and fitted a built-in oven, we had no use for our perfectly serviceable free-standing gas cooker and thought they might be able to take it. But apparently not.

Knowing Sutton Council’s commitment to recycling (“Re-use, not refuse”) we contacted the council to take away our old cooker. We had thought the council would give it a quick service and then use it for some needy person. But no. It just got crunched up in their crusher lorry. More bulk for the landfill. Grrr!!

The council does recycle some things, though. Bins are provided for recycling paper, plastic, glass, and garden rubbish – which they turn into compost for sale. Our gardening expert, Mike Clark, says that he would never give away such a valuable resource. You can read his article on how to make your own compost here:
Clark in the Park: Never Underestimate Number Twos

Despite our council’s boast about its greenness, there is clearly still much room for improvement. It’s not just the council, either. We had a nasty experience at another charity shop recently (Marie Curie Cancer Research in Wallington) when we took along some used, but good quality bedding, only to be told by the very sniffy shop assistant that they wouldn’t sell it. The council should provide the means for goods like this to go to an agency who could use them. The only alternative meanwhile is to put these perfectly good, but used, items into the brown bin and (along with perfectly good cookers) add to the need for more landfill sites.

Are people really so rich these days that second-hand is not good enough for them? I suppose that while the council keeps handing out money to them, then those with low or no incomes have no need to be frugal. Certainly our ex-tenant (latterly a recipient of housing benefit) had money for luxuries such as cable TV, two dogs and a car, although not for things such as paying the rent or the gas bill. But that’s a different story.
How do they do things where you are? Do you have anything to say about this topic, or do you have some suggestions for other issues we might discuss in our weekly email? Why not comment and tell us about it?

Virtual Snacks

If you’re interested in trying to save the planet from the worst of humankind’s depredations, or just want to know more about environmental issues, then you can find out all you didn’t want to know but feared you might find out anyway at Greenpeace’s website.
Greenpeace

On a lighter note, our pal Jayne drew www.piada.com to our attention recently. A Portuguese language site, but there are plenty of pictures there to amuse people of any nationality. As a taster, here’s a link showing an imaginative if rather bizarre use of a wheelie bin:
Piada.com: Wheelie Bin

Bizarre Searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • pub quiz free scottish questions
  • funny english activities
  • athletes with big penises
  • bogon moth season sydney
  • fatlips software good or bad
  • dog penis sculpture
  • pulled his foreskin
  • from a fool learns more wise man
  • roll out the barrel lyrics german
  • world bitch
  • songs that make a good wife
  • meddlesome ratbag

Till next time…
Happy surfing!

Kay
Editor
British Expat Magazine

Quotation

“I do not know of any environmental group in any country that does not view its government as an adversary.”
– Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Norwegian Prime Minister and WHO Director-General (1939-)

Joke

Two women terrorists are shopping in Harrod’s and trying on backpacks. One turns to the other and asks, “Does my bomb look big in this?”

PG Author: Kay McMahon

Kay has been an expat for nearly 30 years. She set up the British Expat website back in early 2000, whilst living in London and missing the expat life. These days she spends much of her time lugging computers and cameras around the world. (Dave gets to deal with all the really heavy stuff.)

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