Monday, 30 May 2011

Do it Yourself

One of the main tenets I've found in the blogosphere is that government should stay out of things as much as possible, because once it starts getting involved the costs go up and the service goes down.

One such area is Recycling, where national and local government decided to stick their mighty oar in thanks to EU-set targets and are doing a bloody inefficient job of it with their boxes of many colours, their rules and regulations and threats of fines. Its so messed up that our old electronic goods end up polluting parts of Nigeria, surely the antithesis of what recycling and environmentalism is all about.

The thing is, recycling has been going on for years: jumble sales, car boot sales have existed for eons and have successfully recycled far more of other people's tat than the government could ever do.

Of course with the introduction of the web, came new ideas. Freegle and Freecycle are dedicated to allowing people to swap their unwanted stuff for free. The principle is that you offer stuff that you'd normally take to the tip, thereby recycling it for free (well, other than the cost of petrol to pick it up). When i say tip, you'd be surprised at how much usable stuff people would rather take to the tip than go to the effort of selling.
When I've done one of our numerous house moves, I've offered the stuff we didn't want to take with us on there. The only downside is having to set up a dedicated email folder for the huge number of emails that come in. I've used them for years now and they have partly furnished the grown up kids new digs and helped us out when times were hard. My daughter rides a free bike to college, I'm sat on one of a free set of dining chairs.

The thing is, these are classic cases of the so-called "big society": people just getting on with doing it themselves. Its a pity government don't include estimations of the amount these different organisations recycle in its figures, because I'm pretty sure it would exceed EU targets. On the other hand, I'm happy the clunking fist of government hasn't yet strayed into this territory, because it'd kill it overnight.

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