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Green sweep

Oliver Bennett, Guardian
Oliver Bennett is a devoted recycler with a problem – a surfeit of plastic bags, bottles, cans and ‘spare’ kettles cluttering up his life. Until he calls in an expert …

I am incapable of throwing away carrier bags. They’ll come in handy one day, I think, as they sit in the “guilt-dump”: the pre-recycling area in our kitchen full of bottles, cereal packets, newspapers. Plus those plastic bags, of course: all 221 of them.

But this little domestic landfill is causing some pain. I live in a small central London flat with my partner and two children, and on top of all the recycling, I hoard. I blame a thrift-consciousness, schooled in the 70s when you ate everything on the plate, turned off lights and took back bottles – habits given new legs by today’s green imperative.

I was interested, then, to discover that there’s a profession dealing with the domestic disorder caused by eco-virtue. One key proponent is Romaine Lowery, a no-nonsense power coach from Northern Ireland. “Most clients complain that they’re trying to be green, but have landed up with a great pile of stuff in the corner of the room,” she says. “It’s definitely added to the amount of clutter that people have in their homes. And for people who are majorly cluttered, it’s another excuse.” I ask her to drop by to free me from my eco-grief.

“Get things out of the kitchen, particularly the things for recycling,” Lowery says, producing a brushed aluminium box to put the plastic bags in: quite natty, but incapable of coping with 221 of the things. “Use them or lose them,” she orders. “Keep things in circulation, but aim to stop stuff coming into the house in the first place. Don’t go for overpackaged goods.
(5 April 2008)

Are you a cloth bag snob?

Photo Gallery (at original)

Charlie Porter on what your environmentally friendly shopping bag says about you
(3 April 2008)
A little explored tactic for moving people greenwards: snobbery. Don’t laugh! Snobbery led the way towards unhealthy eating habits in the 18th-20th centuries (prepared foods rich in sugar and fat, white bread, gourmet foods from far away). Now snobbery is an undercurrent in the move toward food that is fresh, local and organic. There are populist calls to democratize organic food and make it more affordable. And yet, as Mark Twain noted in the episode of Tom Sawyer whitewashing the back fence:

Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all. He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it – namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain.


Living off the fat of the land? Arrest in theft of grease

Mark Gomez, San Jose Mercury News
Apparently a double Whopper and large fries weren’t enough for this man: He wanted more – used cooking oil, 300 gallons of it.

David Richardson, 49, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of stealing grease after police said he siphoned it from a storage tank at a Morgan Hill Burger King.

A Burger King manager called police because he didn’t recognize the truck belonging to a man he saw siphoning the oil. When police stopped Richardson, his 5,000-gallon oil tank was half-full.

Police suspect the Illinois man, who worked for Restaurant Oils of America in Las Vegas, intended to recycle the oil at an Atascadero refinery for $1.35 a gallon. A full tank would have been worth $6,750.

“Our guess is it’s a biodiesel fuel thing. It’s like someone stealing copper wire,” said Morgan Hill police Cmdr. David Swing. “This might turn into something that starts to occur more frequently.”
(3 April 2008)
Photo at original.

Beating the sunshine shonks

James Woodford, Sydney Morning Herald
Both hippie innovators and trained installers fear the real risks in cheap solar panels and dodgy installations, writes James Woodford.

Until a little over a year ago solar power was a fringe industry, mostly run by dedicated, technical-minded hippies.

Then climate change exploded as an issue, Al Gore became an environmental superstar and the Howard government increased the rebate for installation of panels for solar power production from $4000 to $8000.

Today solar for power production (as opposed to solar for hot water, another rapidly growing industry) is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the Australian economy, and the old hippies fear being swamped by carpetbaggers and container loads of cheap panels.

The statistics are extraordinary
(5 April 2008)