Time to talk rubbish. You might think I mean everything I write on this blog. No I'm talking about refuse collection and recycling rubbish. The first thing I want to mention is that the scheme in Modbury in Devon's South Hams to be a plastic bag free community is now one year old. Although Modbury is a trailblazer a number of other communities are going down the same route, I believe Crediton in Mid Devon for example is another town wanting to follow in Modbury's footsteps. For me what is just as important as the ban on issuing plastic bags at these places is the fact that towns and villages with their own special identities are doing these things from a communal perspective and that people are thinking about environmental problems rather than going through life on autopilot.
Commendable though Modbury's example is in so many ways I am not convinced that a total ban on all plastic bags is the way forward. We should certainly strive to drastically cut down on their number but not consign them to history. There is the odd occasion when having a plastic bag around is distinctly useful. For instance bringing home a couple of pots with flowers from a garden centre or nursery. Then there is the exhortation of our local recycling firm to place used glass bottles and jars in a plastic bag for the fortnightly collection. In this instance I take my glassware to the bottle bank in the village (on foot by the way, using the car would negate the environmental benefit unless I had special reason to pass a bottle bank on a trip elsewhere). I do though use a plastic bag for the cardboard that gets collected as the inclement weather that we so often endure would cause the cardboard to disintegrate. Obviously I'm trusting the company to recycle the bags or at least dispose of them sensibly.
I've written before about the many downsides of 'pay as you throw' for landfill rubbish. Here in the Caradon District (to become part of 'Cornwall' when the county becomes a unitary authority) we are blessed with better recycling facilities than some. We get a plentiful supply of clear and blue sacks so much more practical I feel for our tiny cottages than the plethora of bins some councils distribute. I've got a calendar in front of me as a reminder of collection dates from this April right through to November 2009. The leaflet also contains some FAQs one of which states where the recycling products go. The destinations are all in England or Wales, not the Far East with its associated transport costs! When the scheme first kicked off we had an equivalent number of red bags at our disposal - these were for clothes and shoes. The penny has dropped that most folk wouldn't need those bags very often , certainly not every other week, so there is a contact number now if you need delivery of the same.
The recycling scheme seems to have bedded in very well, the same operation also covers the North Cornwall District.