Post the Ideal Home show we have decided to pursue some issues that were thrown up by visitors to our stand, which inspired me to write the following. As it stands an awful lot of folk are employed and being paid an awful lot of money with an awful lot of resources to have either been unable to help, or come up with an awful lot of reasons why they cannot.
I carry a powerful memory from our recent participation at the Daily Mail Ideal Home show. It is of the lone ‘All Waste Paper' recycling bin that eventually appeared outside the entrance of the recycle now stand, beneath an endlessly looping Eddie Izzard commercial exhorting us to 'recycle - the possibilities are endless’.
I was there to do so, but the thin slot was well and truly blocked by a plastic bottle crammed into it.
As a metaphor for the show (theme: Recycling and Sustainable Living, though one would have been hard-pressed to guess, let alone experience or practice any such things) it seemed appropriate. But also symbolic of a greater disconnect I believe exists across the land.
While there was a small fortune being spent telling people what is good to do, there was little in evidence to point people in the right direction, or facilities in place to actually do it. Hence small motivation to try very hard to comply.
My 'business', Junkk.com, is primarily about reuse, but we are more than keen to encourage proper recycling should those 're's’ higher up the enviro-chain not be possible. But I do wonder why it is still so hard for the poor old consumer to know what to do... or where.
If there were two things that we were challenged on mostly at our stand, from people attracted by the fateful words 'Ask us!' on one of our posters, they were a) what to do with endless ISP CD-ROMs, and b) what to do with a loft full of old IT stuff.
On the reuse front we were coming up a bit shy. There are only so many allotment bird scarers required, and other than turning an old iMac into a aquarium, we were pretty stumped there too. So if anyone has a good idea... tell us! We’ll all make a fortune.
Hence on to disposal, and we have started to try and find out. Because we are happy to admit to our users that while we may not have an immediate answer, we probably have a slightly better chance of knowing a 'man who can' or 'a lady who is savvy'.
So far, it is not proving too encouraging. Especially as the enquiries pour in from around the country.
Cans, no problem. Bottles, cinch (though where is that green glass mountain?). Paper, surely (however, perhaps not in Earls Court). Cardboard, mostly. Plastic... er... erratic but getting there (and there is always a paper bin in Earls Court). TetraPaks? Well, best if you live up North. Waaaaay up North. Batteries? Used to be France, but now there are a few collection points around, though I'm betting most don't know where and lob them in the bin.
But for a lot of other stuff that people do seem to be pretty concerned about, it still seems a barren plot. Take our very own nifty IT 'grey-yard': dead printers, slow CPUs and lifeless mobiles (yes, I know that there are many 'schemes' out there, but we are also interested in provenance chains with our disposal options, which is worthy of another story on behalf of poorly-informed consumers).
Junkk.com is a journey of discovery, so I am happy to admit I... we... are learning all the time. And so far, in our attempts to help folk (we're not being altruistic as every such enquiry and, with luck, result adds to the knowledge base we can share on our pages), it has been pretty discouraging. And let's not forget, we do know a tad more about where to try than most of the general public.
Websites; local authority and otherwise. Actual exchanges with endless officers. Industry bodies. NGOs. Businesses. Not much to show, from the vast logistical investment that has been made so far, that gets us any where near dealing with the item(s) we're interested in deposing of at all, let alone responsibly. There's a lot of 'stuff' out there. But outside of the kerbside-friendly 'goodies' endlessly solicited, when push comes to shove not much at all that translates into actually helping an individual get rid of something , either easily, practically or cost-effectively.
To dispose of my CPU, so far no organisation listed on local official sites wants to know, and as an individual the closest I have come is an invitation to visit Leeds, London or Luton.