Thursday, April 13, 2006

It can often seem we're trying to save different planets

We subscribe to Materials Recycling Week, and having submitted it as an article, were pleasantly surprised to find my recent blog republished by them just now:

By Peter from

Latest: What. Where.

Peter,, 12/04/2006: I carry a powerful memory (scroll down at bit for full text)... 

What was not so great was to see a related earlier blog by one of their journalists, dated March 9, where she found herself '... pleasantly surprised by just how much emphasis has been put on recycling and sustainability in the home', in obvious awe of the celebrities she met, and whose stands (which, unlike ours, we rather suspect may not have been charged for, despite being very commercial, and well-promoted, high-end enterprises) she was obviously introduced to (two, ironically, just a corridor away from our own). 

Reason being that we are taking the organisers well and truly to task over the avowed theme, and this really is not going to be helpful. But it also highlights the disconnect that can obviously occur between what some organisations say and what they share (in PR, press packs, guided tours, etc) and what gets written, perhaps with the best of intentions, by journalists on tight deadlines. 

We know the lady in question, and she is passionate about the environment. Sadly, we do not recognise the show emphasis she described. I know it can be tricky to repay an invitation to a press launch with some constructive criticism (check out my review of the Dead Ringers story to see how I tried to balance my views whilst still saying what I genuinely felt, which was that it was an awful lot of money on something that didn’t really get to grips with all the issues it should have, doubtless making grumpy the show PR and all associated Gov, Local Gov and NGO types who get to play with the huge amounts involved).

There is a heady cocktail at work here, involving a lot of folk, and delicately balanced relationships between those who need, and those they’d like to be needed by. I'd include in this, big time, WRAP (who sponsored the Recycle Now alley, and whose cited participation in the marketing by the show sales guys was highly instrumental in our taking part). 

But perhaps most important is what the general public who visited thought of it all. 

I was there every day, and from those who came to the show and visited our stand (it is... interesting... that we were not one an environmental journalist was told about, came to (at least announced), or felt worth mentioning, despite being only one of a half-dozen scattered about in several hundred) it split into two distinct groups: those who had no clue the show was anything to do with environmental issues, and those who came because they had heard, found our little oasis, and shared our views that it was nothing like it had been billed, for exhibitor or interested visitor.

As a courtesy to the MRW editor (with whom we truly value our good relationship) I have called to tell him of our views and my intention to write this, and we have in a most civilised fashion agreed that it is all about freedom of speech. So here's hoping I can still articulate my views beyond these pages.

As part of our follow-up we will be continue to seek those of others who took part and visited, and it will be interesting to see the picture that emerges.

Two down, four hundred and eighty-odd to go

My adventures in IT disposal have proven a mixed bag so far, and while most of what I have written previously has been borne out, at least in terms of letting 'us' know what to do, I'm happy to report that, in our neck of the woods (Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire), that it is possible to get rid of an old PC. But by golly, it took a bit of doing in the finding, with the doing yet to be confirmed.

 My first port of call was a website we have in the past found to be quite reliable, wastepoint (heard of it?). Sadly, despite using a very clear process, we ended up with a less than helpful result: take it to London, Luton or Leeds.

Next up, I headed for the local authority site, and after a bit of drilling down got where I needed to be, which was as far as I could go on this site, which then sent me off elsewhere (actually it gave me a choice of two, one of which is now defunct, but at least defaulted back to the other) to Turn the world around/Welcome to our future/recycle. This in turn sent me off to a seemingly promising section, which listed a few phone numbers. Sadly the companies mentioned were either no longer operating, not interested in my volumes (nothing less than a skipful got them excited) or too far away.

So I headed back to the council site and emailed directly to the contact offered.

I must say I was quite impressed to be called back within the day, by a most helpful lady who offered a few suggestions. These all were local and could help, but as I pointed out to her it was interesting that none were actually listed on the site.

One was a private company that would take my PC, but at a price (£1.50 for a CPU; £2.50 for a monitor). One was a not-for-profit, which would be happy to take them, but it was only once I called the boss (who I knew) and he told me where to go and to tell them 'he’d sent me'. Finally I was given the mobile number of the private contractor running the public sites. He happily told me they'd take the stuff, but only if I was a private individual.

So, without actually going out there to test it, it looks like it may work, at least in our neck of the woods.
But I rather suspect most folk would have given up well before the point of actually making such progress. Now, where next? We've also tried it (having been asked by a user) about Wokingham, but sadly, despite our best efforts and a series of exchanges with the council waste officer, come up with nothing there. Which leaves just a few more left on the list... about 480.
Thing is, we're just a little outfit with no real resource. Isn't his something worth doing and supporting at much higher levels?