21 Feb, 2018 @ 19:51
10 mins read

Reuse, not recycle


Yesterday I broke my chisel for my Bosch that I have been using to cut the rock to create more space in our bedroom…

Which has meant all day I have been not working on our bedroom project as promised, but actually fiddling around on the internet learning more about blogging and Twitter and other ways to go round in circles. But most importantly what I was actually avoiding was driving to our local big town, Baza, and picking up a new chisel head, which if I could find it there, would not give me much change out of the equivalent of a weeks food shop.

The morning passed, the afternoon went and by late afternoon one of us had to go into Baza anyway because we were picking up a friend in Baza. I said I would go in and pick her up. The problem was, our car. We recently bought a little run around for €350 euros, but it has a few problems with it.

When I bought it, my neighbour and friend Pedro gave me a lift to go and see the car, I bought it and I drove off with about 100kms to get home. I gave Pedro some petrol money so he cold take his girlfriend out for a nice lunch, which meant he was not following behind me to check I made it. He had offered, but I turned him down. I was short on time as Tanya was away in England and the kids get dropped off home by the school bus at 3pm and it was already 1:30pm.

I have completely distracted myself, I am so sorry, I am nowhere near my story on recycling…

I am driving back along the motorway, a little nervous, I am in a tiny Peugeot 106 its Petrol, its left hand drive, manual and first registered in 1993- my Toyota is Right hand drive, diesel and automatic, and huge. I am driving along at eye level with the wheels of enormous trucks whizzing past me as my speed collapses on every hill. I turn the radio to distract myself as I am now pretty nervous about this car and time.

I should add that even if I broke down on the motorway I had a few hurdles to overcome. My phone had not worked for days, no signal, no idea why. I was not currently insured for this car, and in Spain when you break down you phone your insurance company for a tow. The radio didn’t work, then the indicators stopped working, the ventilation didn’t work, then my eyes started stinging.

I didn’t open the window because I assumed it was the truck in front of me, then I realised – something inside the car is burning, something behind the dash-board, oh no. The electric windows still worked, I opened the window while still screaming down the motorway at close to 100km/hr on the downhill. The smoke cleared, whatever it had been had burnt out, and now the battery light came on, and stayed on. Bugger, the alternator maybe. For those even less car savvy than me, the alternator charges the battery as the car goes along, no battery, no power, eventually no go.

The last time that had happened to me was when I was seventeen, driving to Fort William with two mates in Mummy’s borrowed car and to cut another long story short the battery light came on then and we broke down on the M6 outside Manchester in rush hour as the engine cut out in the third lane and with no indicators and three lanes of traffic on a hill losing speed we managed to wave our way over to the hard shoulder and call the AA for home. Breath.

I was feeling sick with worry – if that happened to me now I didn’t have Ben and Alex to share the fear with and with Tanya in the UK I had no one to pick up the kids from the bus stop  – I couldn’t phone Mari my neighbour as my phone was dead, my best hope was that at some time after Pedro’s romantic lunch and siesta he would be driving back the same way we come and be able to pick me up…What if he didn’t?

I am trying to remember, how far it was from Fort William to Manchester and whether it was more than 85 kms. Did we have the radio on and the lights, would that have effected the charge on the battery? Of course it would, who am I trying to kid, just drive and pray you break down off the motorway.

I get off the motorway and take the A399 to Oria, which is a windy mountainous road that is pretty desolate in parts – I don’t want to break down here either, I am willing the car on, it coughs and splutters every time it goes more slowly, I stall at a roundabout and think that is it. But I turn the key and it fires up again, I drive on 56km to go…The petrol gauge, (yes the petrol gauge, this is when I tie the story to where I first deviated off) swings wildly between half full and full. I have no idea if I am OK on fuel or not, that is the least of my worries – I am too scared of missing the kids drop off to stop and fuel up – I drive on.

I make it home and still to this day have no idea what burnt out. And to this day it appears not to have been a problem with the alternator, the battery light only comes on if you turn the ventilation dial – don’t turn the knob, no battery light, no problem. And to this day still have no radio, no ventilation, no windscreen wipers except the driver’s side,  and no indicators, but they do work on hazard. I know this, because on my way to Baza to pick up our friend I ran out of fuel and waited on the side of the road for Tanya to drive past with a can of petrol that should have been in the car, but had been taken out after the last time she broke down and filled up on the side of the road.

I wasn’t that panicked as Tanya was already driving to the petrol station to fill it up and heading home having dropped Lola off at sports practice. What Tanya didn’t know was that I had already left in the little Peugeot because I was running out of time and couldn’t wait for Tanya to come all the way home and either give me her car or some fuel. What I didn’t know was Tanya had already left in the Peugeot to drop off Lola and buy some fuel but realised a mile down the road she was not going to make it, so drove home and picked up the Toyota! No wonder she had taken for ever! And no wonder the car ran out of fuel on me.

I fuel up on the side of the road and shout at Tanya for taking so long, not knowing she had, had her own mini nightmare with cars, and drive on to Baza to pick up my pal and try to get my chisel fixed, we are back to recycling, I think…

Well, when I posted I picture of my busted chisel yesterday, a pal pointed out that he had a mate who could weld it back together again for me, in Baza. Well of course! What an idiot I am for thinking that this could not be done for the fraction of price (and waste) buying a new one would cost. Actually I didn’t think at all, I just assumed it could not be done. But it has been done, it cost me nothing, and this is my point.

Back in the UK I reluctantly recycled. For years I figured the amount of effort I expended partitioning my waste (I never tried that hard), was using up more energy, once it had been picked up, sorted, turned into something new, than if we had just started again.

Here is my reasoning, if there is only a finite amount of energy on earth, if we use more energy recycling then we save, are we worse off?

Now, I know many people will damn me for saying that, so I am open to have someone explain exactly why I am wrong on that – but what sealed my disdain for recycling for me, was when I discovered my local council was shipping all my recycling, about ten years ago, to CHINA, on a container ship, to be put into landfill, in China – and it still goes on today…We all spent that effort, but ultimately it all got dropped into a container ship and sent half way round the world because it was cheaper for them than actually doing what they said they were going to do.

So why are so many people having to have seven bins and getting fined for putting the wrong container into the wrong bin when supermarkets keep feeding us more plastic and waste? It couldn’t be some cozy tie in with the bin manufactures, the council the waste mafia could it? And I thought it was all about saving the planet.

Recycling is different here in Spain, a piece of metal or a piece of wood or an old fridge is a water trough for the goats or a new gate post or in my case, there is a bloke who can fix a snapped bit of metal – how daft am I not to have even thought of that, for my chisel, before my pal mentioned it? It’s because I still possess a UK mentality, but hope for a Spanish one.

Since moving to Spain, I have recycled doors, I hoard materials like my father does, I now preserve veggies our neighbours give us and return them back as chutney, where before all we could do was bin them or freeze them, too embarrassed to ask what we are meant to do with it all. But only because I know have the space to do that – land and property is cheap here. Fridges get turned over and used as water feeder for sheep – yes I know it may not all be aesthetically pleasing, but if you can get past that, stuff is getting reused.

I cannot tell you how many times I have seen a far off village, all beautiful white buildings looking stunning from afar, only to drive up close and find, quite frankly, the place is a dive. One of my local towns is beautiful, until you take a walk around and discover that 90% of it is just crumbling crap.

I know this all sounds toss if you live in a flat in Nine Bells London on the 22nd floor having just secured your first bonus at your Merchant Bank and you are on track to do better next year. Your neighbour at your work desk just bought a Ferrari with his quarter bonus which he keep in a garage below your block of flats…etc –  I understand that, I was there, well I never got the Ferrari, I just test drove a second-hand one once. You are not wrong, I am just in a different place now, mentally, financially weaker, but happier. I don’t blame you if this is just a load of tush to you, I am amazed you made it this far down the page – here have a look at this, these guys will help you. This is a great example of what paying attention at school can achieve, she paid attention, I didn’t. Of course you can’t re-use stuff when you don’t even have a balcony, but maybe one day.

I have a friend of mine who is a Senior Lecturer at The Bartlett, University College (I know, I can quote him, but he would never quote me!). He came to stay recently and he said some interesting things about his students, the butterfly generation – unable to read and unable to think – but that is not the point. The point I am making, he teaches exactly what I am trying to say here – a building today is designed to be the most awe-inspiring, technologically advanced, technically beautiful design – yet will be pulled down in thirty years. Yet my cave, which costs €30 a year to heat, zero to cool, will be here way after I have gone – as long as I don’t collapse it…. I mentioned Nespresso machines the other day and my pal pointed out that they are so incredibly ridiculous the only reason they were allowed to be made was because every part in them ‘can’ be recycled. Unfortunately, there are only to machines in Europe capable of taking them all apart to reuse the parts. Brilliant.

The joy I got from my ‘flipping’ chisel getting fixed, the fact that our old fridge is now used to feed the goats opposite our house, the rock I am cutting out of our house is making more land for us to grow veggies on and making our house bigger, the egg boxes we give to a mate who gives us their free range eggs in return…I think it shows I am getting old and seeing things in a different way. This is what that look your parent gave you feels like when you announced you wanted to rave for ever and never settle down.

I feel recycling should be reusing, not reprocessing. By reprocessing someone is make money out of it to then pay to tell you, you are doing the right thing. When you buy a ready meal, you have paid someone to turn some good food into a mush that is likely cheaper than a fresh alternative, but the profits are twice as high. Recycling is the same, I believe Cut out the middle man if you can, leave your packaging with the supermarkets, if that is all you can do, great. if you have more time, maybe this is too much, but find some inventive ways to use stuff.

Reuse, not recycle.

I am not great at writing, I have a lot of ideas, but better at ‘coming back’ rather than ‘ new ideas’ – so perhaps you could help me by commenting on my post, so I now what you are thinking and I can respond – thank you.

By the way, I arrived five minutes late for my friend, whose bus was also five minutes late, and picked her up just as she stepped out of the bus station – nailed it.

09:47 Friday – update.   what do they say – Pay peanuts, get monkeys? I take back everything. My fixed chisel bust within minutes, I now have to drive back to Baza and get a new one, increasing my carbon footprint and the only thing I can think of to re appropriate the shaft of the chisel for its to shove it up the a^s€ of the welder, which isn’t that appropriate really.

Please pass this on if you enjoyed it and pass it on twice if you didn’t. Please also comment and let me know your thoughts. I love discussion and love to learn, so good or bad I would welcome you thoughts on what I have to say. Thank you for reading.



I am in my mid forties and recently moved to Spain with my family. We were meant to be moving to France, but we ended up here after an incident that involved daytime TV and a need for more sun and space than the Alps could offer. Its this kind of chaos I thrive on...

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