Sunday, 11 February 2018


Tucked in behind the stack of dinner dishes sits an empty bottle of fabric conditioner. Well, I say empty, but there’s half a centimetre of pink Lenor at the bottom, growing slowly as the fluff-giving liquid slides down the sides of the bottle.

If the Snapper were doing dishes tonight, she’d wash out the bottle and lid and leave them to dry on the draining board.

I pick it up, scrunch it and chuck it in the landfill bin. Then I rinse out the two empty two litre bottles of Diet Coke that were standing by the Lenor and leave them to dry.

What am I up to? Not too sure, to be honest, because matters Green fire up constant conflict in my brainbox.

I feel no confusion over my intentions towards the environment. Willing to acknowledge that my presence on this planet causes harm, I strive to create eco-ambitions that make sense to me.

For a long time a strongly cynical part of me has wondered if our Irish multi-bin systems really do any good.

I’m sure that the food waste, tea bags and egg boxes I tip onto my compost heap will return something to the plant world. Yet I wonder how much of what we recycle at home ends up crushed into a massive cube of shite, which is then loaded onto a container ship with hundreds of similar shitey cubes, sailed around the world and dumped off the coast of Bangladesh, where desperately impoverished locals try to salvage a wretched living off our waste.

I’ve always suspected there’s an element of psychological warfare behind our wheelie bins. Compared to the amount of waste created by industry and commerce, our domestic detritus feels almost insignificant, yet as long as we do our bit, we feel okay.

We all know we have to contribute to the saving of the planet, so if we’ve washed out our cans of baked beans and placed everything in the right bin in the correct way, we can feel we’ve done everything we can.

If we go through this palaver each day we’re allowed to forget about the planet with a clean conscience. We need not worry our silly heads with the mass pollution created by industry, because we’ve put our newspapers into the blue bin.

Are we just being placated: fooled into thinking we’ve done enough?
If you’re finding it hard to take ecological sermonising from the bloke who just put a dirty plastic bottle into the landfill bin: welcome to my world.

Riddled with distrust of those who sell to us and govern us, I instead devise random rules of recycling. The clean Diet Coke bottles required no soap to clean out. A quick sloosh with the water and they’re off to recycling, but that yucky leftover fabric conditioner was going to go down the plug hole. 

It would need hot water to wash out, which uses up electricity, and then I’d be pouring phosphates and all sorts of crap into the drains; the septic tank; Lough Corrib; the Atlantic Ocean.

What is point of damaging our local environment just so that I can obey the rules? (why use the Lenor at all, I hear you cry!)

In the same way, I’m buggered if I’m going to use pints of hot water and Fairy Liquid to wash out a jar of peanut butter, just so that it can go in the glass recycling.

There’s no shortage of sand in the world. I worked for a while for the Glass Manufacturers Federation and I can tell you: we’re doing those lads a great favour.

My head spins like a windmill blade as I listen to greeny types giving out about wind farms. Of course powerful rulings about how far they must be built from housing need to be adhered to, but what would they rather have? 

Peat farms destroying Ireland’s great bogs and clean air?  
Nuclear power, perhaps?

I fear that all this legislation in favour of electric cars is nothing but a one-way street to a nuclear future. In 2017 there were 31.7 million cars on the roads of the UK, yet their government plan to rid their country of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040. Where is all the electricity going to come from?

Talk of clean electric cars utterly bamboozles me. How is electricity a clean energy? Even if, in 20 years, renewable and recoverable sources provide all the UK’s domestic output, that leaves a heck of a lot of cars needing charging.

Inevitably that will be when nuclear energy returns from moral exile.

At least with nuclear power we can be absolutely certain of one thing: it will go wrong. There will be a disaster which will wreck our lives and the environment.

I love the idea of wind farms and tidal energy, but we also need to ensure that in our eagerness to save our environment, we’re not screwing up the one beneath the sea.

Having already bleached much of the planet’s coral reef, we need to look out for the oceans. Wind turbines create noise that interferes with many aspects of marine life, particularly cetacean navigation. Humpback whales lose their ability to migrate. Dolphins pods become beached.

Is there anything more terrifying and disgusting than that vast artificial island of plastic drifting around the Pacific Ocean? An evil country in search of an owner, nobody takes responsibility or funds an expedition to clean it up.

What could possibly be more important to our ecosystems and climate than ridding the oceans of plastic?

Hmmm, yeh.

Right now, that might be me going back to my bin and taking out that bottle of Lenor.

Think of the poor fish, Adley.

Sorry, septic.
Sorry, Lough Corrib.

Holy microbeads, this recycling business sure is confusing!

©Charlie Adley

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