Another Man’s Waste


Last week and again today I am struck by the effects of other people’s rubbish and how years later it affects us.

I read somewhere as a statistic that all the plastic that ever existed still remains in the world today.

This news saddened me greatly. I wondered how we would ever get rid of it. Although it is only a tiny small step I do try to do whatever I can not to buy anything needlessly wrapped in plastic. Save on bags and reuse everything possible.

I wish I could say that I’m doing my bit, but I feel as though it is a drop on the ocean and that we are all such a long way off.

I digress as usual…

On both occasions I was picking up rubbish in the garden. I would love to turn this place into a healthy garden, but several previous owners and my current neighbour here have some awful habits when it comes to litter and seem to think it’s ok to bury it or just leave it floating around the countryside. Something that makes me really mad. We spend a lot of time picking up other people’s rubbish here.

The house was derelict when we bought it. Those of you who have been reading for a while will know that it is still in a bad state now but we are only one couple on a non existent budget trying to make a difference whenever we can.

Yes I have dreams of off grid eco living off the land. By during today’s clear up I thought I wonder if it will ever be the sort of land which will bear fruit. I was standing in what used to be an orchard and will be once again one day.

I was clearing up the debris of a life which ended in 2001, some16 years ago I thought. For someone who lived off the land, he didn’t think about the effect of his waste upon future generations or inhabitants. I cannot hold this against him really. I did not know the man and I don’t think he really thought about it.

It was pointed out to me that due to the remote location it is not easy to get a rubbish collection up here. But for goodness sake, there are recycling bins in the village and at the end of the track a small village where they would collect it from, so I’m not buying that.

I picked up 6 pairs of leather shoes which were buried along the hedges. Toothpaste tubes, wine bottles and jam jars, cocoa jars and Fizzy pop. Plastic bread bags, probably of brands which no longer exist buried in the ground. But of course as the years go by, ground moves and things reappear.

There was broken Crockery, plates, dishes. Glasses and wine and beer bottles. Plastic containers and that was just from the old boy who lived here. The last owner used this place as a dump. He was a glazier and so the amount of glass that has been shifted from here over the years since we took it over is astronomical. I think we will be unearthing it until the end of time. Just when you think you have found it all, you turn around and find more. There are also rubber, window fittings, metal and plastic all over the place all surrounded by our woodland. What was once a lovely green space was tarnished by waste and is fighting to recover along with our help.

It may sound crazy that I am worrying about the garden in a decidedly shabby house. But I hope that if I sort out the ground around it. It will be usable and things will thrive here again. It costs only the time that we put into it and a whole lot of effort but I hope that it will be worth it.

I have visions of the orchard full of fruit trees, the garden with a lawn and the woods at the back with healthy trees again. The broken pieces of the past finally removed and something new and wonderful will remain for years to come. Even though I have no one to take over the place after my demise I don’t want it to be in a sorry condition for the next person to come along and say “what on earth were they thinking of leaving all this rubbish laying about?”

So today we have recycled the glass jars and window glass we have found so far but we literally have not scratched the surface. Whenever you take or dig anything over, it is as though you haven’t done it all.

The old toothpaste tubes and tin foil and cans have also gone to the recycling and rubbish dump along with a lot of rubber sections used by the glazier. I also found out something interesting. At least four pairs of leather shoes which have not broken down either and a tobacco pouch. The only thing that has rotted down has been the stitching. I wonder if he ever thought that part if his legacy would be found 16 years later after he died, buried in the garden. It probably wasn’t the type of legacy he had in mind at all as a writer and artist his legacy should have been far more artistic.

You can find out a lot about a person from their rubbish, especially when they leave it laying around.

We decided to make a track through the orchard to get to the back unearthing yet more of the same. There will still be trees, more will self seed no doubt and we will find some more to transplant later on. My partner talked about the possibility of a paddock one day. He has a yearning for me to have animals here. I voiced my concern today that we could be picking up glass there for years to come so I don’t even know if it is possible down the line. Maybe with a JCB to skim the top of it all it might, and we would probably lose the orchard in the process and it’s also such a lot of work and expense. It surprises me where we find it all. Around the edges, in the hedges and by the fences around the perimeter. We will have to build new ones later, a huge job (in my eyes) due to the area. But then I am used to a small plot when back South. To a farmer it’s nothing but to a townie, it’s something else entirely.
My years of dreaming of eco living may not be possible on this plot due to it’s previous life.

That saddens me more than I can say.

I thought about my plans to litter pick on the beach when I go back back South but there is so much of that here I am starting on my home ground first.


Tomorrow I will pick up the debris from the trees which were moved and felled and probably get the chain saw out. We need to restock the woodshed which has been seriously depleted on this trip due to the cold nights. Today it was warm and glorious followed by a windy evening and a beautiful red sky so I think we will be in luck for tomorrow.

One Mans’ Waste is another Mans’ Treasure

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One Man’s waste is another man’s treasure. So they say….
I am the first to admit, I hate waste. I was brought up in a home where we did not have much to spare, what little we did have was often passed on or found. As a consequence, My parents and grandparents we great at recycling, (and hoarding) so I guess that it became second nature to me to have second hand furniture, clothing and to learn how to give things a new lease of life, or just enjoy them when someone else had finished with them. Also to hang onto things, often until way past their usefulness has probably passed. When I grew up, it wasn’t known as recycling, that only became a popular phrase, as I was growing up, the phrase was learning how to just “make do and mend.” It instilled a certain level of practicality in us children, where we looked at how things were made and how they could be repaired or even turned into something completely new. So much of that seems lost now.

I am in turmoil. You see whilst walking the dog earlier, I came across a house which had been cleared. We walked past it yesterday too, or was it the day before. It looked interesting, the house had been sold and as a consequence emptied. Totally emptied! The front garden was now piled high with the belongings that someone had once held so dear. You see, to someone like me, there might be gold there! Some wonderful preloved thing, just waiting to be found. It is difficult for me to comprehend, how someone can just clear out and dump someones possessions all out in the garden. No Skip. Just loaded up so that they can barely get down the pathway, what on earth does that solve? The house is sold, clearly they didn’t want it but surely you would get a house clearance in, or donate to a charity instead, after all there are plenty of them around.

Lots of people would make use of these things. A washing machine, fridge, cooker, the odd nick-nack. I wish I had a truck and a spare pair of hands sometimes. Oh and a lock up.
Unfortunately we live in a wasteful society now, where everything is considered disposable, without thought or consequence. I find this difficult to deal with and try to find another option: re-use, recycle, re-purpose or donate. My other half thinks that I gather “unnecessary toot” wonders what I would do with it, but it just requires a little creative thought. I can see the potential in most things, this is both a blessing and a curse at times.

There are still poor people in the world, at times I am one of them. Those who don’t have much, are missing something in their home and cannot afford to go and buy it. Cannot afford the latest things for their children and yet still want to encourage, nurture and let them think outside the box. That someone might be grateful to sit on an old chair, with a new cushion, or repainted in a pretty colour.

They might want a suitable table where their child can paint pictures, draw or read a book in a quiet corner. That desk and chair might just be welcome.
Perhaps if I could get that truck, lock up and spare pair of hands, then I would have a curiosity shop, full of such things to inspire a new generation, that dumping stuff for the local youths to smash up and litter all over the roads, really is not the way forward. To needlessly destroy things of beauty that were once a cherished part of someone’s family home. Sometimes passed from generation to generation. Sometimes they are not worth anything at all, in monetary terms, but have huge sentimentality to others.

As I sit in my house, surrounded by items of furniture, either bought or collected through the years, mismatched it tells a story, or several. Some inherited, some replaced but all has it’s use and place within the home. New is not always better, it holds no story to tell. It’s life has only just begun, but does it have any staying power, will it endure? I would rather take steadfast old than crumbly new any day. They don’t make it like they used to.

I regret that I did not rescue a piece of furniture from the roadside a couple of years ago. It was robust, solid wood and well crafted. Made to Last and had done so since just after WWII a 1940‘s post war oak cupboard. It had been disposed of for days, I tried to think of a way of getting it home, since I could not lift it alone and my partner had damaged himself (as he often does) so was unable to assist me. Over a period of several weeks, the rain got to it, which split the wood. Someone poured something over it and the varnish began to peel. The drawers were removed and smashed upon the floor. Paint was then thrown all over it.
A few weeks later and the top was also pulled off and slung across the road, broken and beyond repair it was then stacked by a tree for the dustmen to take away. The furniture that had once stood proudly and polished, cared for in someone’s home. Gone forever… Such a waste. Things around here so often are, it causes great sadness.