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Archive for the ‘green stuff’ Category

Binwatch

With the current weather to cope with,  our local Council in Perth and Kinross have been struggling to empty the bins of the more rural folk like us.   Like many Councils, they now empty bins fortnightly, and we have two wheelybins at the end of our road – one for general waste, and the other for recycling, emptied week about.

The general waste one was last emptied on the 3rd December, and the recycling one on the 13th December.     Both were full yesterday.

And today was a recycling bin emptying day.   The Council managed to get up the road ………..  and emptied both bins into the one lorry.    Perhaps the best solution under the circumstances, as this cold spell could last a while.

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So, Waitrose want to sell milk in bags.     What goes around, comes around.

I remember that in the 1970s, milk came in bags.   You were given a special plastic jug to stick your milk bag in, cut off the corner with a pair of scissors, and simply poured.     As long as you were nifty with the scissors the pouring was drip free.    Too small a hole, and it took aeons to fill a glass;   too big and the whole lot came out in a tidal wave totally flooding out your breakfast cereal.     Milk speedily moved on to tetrapak and we now have the hard plastic bottles.

Interestingly, Canada stuck with milk bags, and now sells 60% of its milk that way.     We could save 100,000 tonnes of waste plastic bottles if all the UK milk came in bags.

I think this time round though, you are supposed to empty the whole bag into the jug.

Waitrose Milk Bags

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Tree Lines

Perthshire lowground is famous for tree lines within field boundary hedges.    It is an attractive landscape feature.    However, dutch elm disease killed off the elms over the years, and the existing trees – mainly ash, oak and sycamore are getting older.    Each year, more are lost to storms, and bits blow off them.   Farmers tend not to like these hedgerow trees as they shade crops and snag on the combine and tractors as they drive by, so they tend not to get replaced.

However, on balance I am prepared to put up with the inconveniences, and value special landscape features.   So I am pleased to announce a planting of 35 new hedgerow trees this week – a mix of oak and ash.    The local Farm and Forestry Wildlife Advisory Group have supplied trees, tubes and posts.    It is rather a dynastical project, but hopefully these trees will be good for 100 years or so.

It is quite a thought.

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Now I know that there are lots and lots of people out there who have not got round to planting their daffodil bulbs, simply because of the large number of visitors finding their way to this Blog by keying in ‘late daffodils’ or something like that.

I have planted late daffodil bulbs for a couple of years now – i.e. planting them in January and February when the bulbs themselves have begun to sprout.    It is probably not recommended practice but they have all come up OK.      

True to form, I was out planting more at the end of January, and I found 5 bags worth in my cool-but-not-frosty store.    Now, on the bags was a special offer of 2 for 1, so I knew that there must be another bag somewhere, but I could not find it.    We had a massive clear out of old newspapers and magazines to the recycling place this week, and hiding within the pile of magazines was …..well you can guess.

I’ll get them in this week, and keep you posted on progress.

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Carbon Offsetting is a murky world, and a tricky concept to grasp.       Every week the Sunday Times Travel section sends its journalists all over the place, but every week, they print how much they have paid to offset their carbon use.     There is a certain smugness to all of this which I find distasteful.

Many businesses are aspiring to become Carbon Neutral.    Apart from “saving the planet”, it is a great marketing tool.

So that’s OK then?

No, I don’t think so really.   On a number of counts.      Firstly, carbon offsetting should be a last resort.    Businesses should have reduced their carbon footprint to as low as possible before offsetting the rest, and I am not sure this happens.    Secondly, who regulates the projects which benefit from the carbon offsetting money?   Nobody, it seems.   Stories of treadmills in India and the rest make for a deep uneasiness in the whole concept.    Thirdly, and linked to this, is how can businesses, organisations and individuals making carbon offsetting payments be certain that their cash is being used efficiently and in genuinely carbon-beneficial ways?

In Scotland, a new scheme is being launched in November for tourism businesses called Climate Change Scotland where projects are Scottish and vetted for suitability.    Evidence of carbon reduction by businesses intersted in contributing is required.     Perhaps this is a good way forward.

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A visit to the Capital in the rain yesterday, and it was looking pretty shabby.

Charlotte Square, which includes Bute House, home of the First Minister and possibly one of the most elegant squares in Europe has grey railings with flaking paint along its south side.      Perhaps this is all part of a refurbishment, but it looks really terrible.

Ot the corner of Hope Street and Princes Street there was a wooden staging to advertise the Rugby 7s.   Unfortunately not robust enough for Edinburgh drunks, as someone had smashed a hole in the top.

All this on a day when Prince Charles was paying a visit.

At the other end of George Street, in St Andrew Square, there is bad and good news.    The bad news is that the gardens are full of diggers and contractors and Herris fencing;   the good is that this is part of a refurbishment, with Melville’s Statue being renovated at the same time.   The even better news is that (say it quietly) this garden is to be open to the public – quite shocking for a city more used to locking up its green spaces for residents use only.

Waiting for a bus in the good weather back in April, I wandered looking for a green place to sit, and found one, but with difficulty, as the top of Princess Street Gardens was being re-turfed – once again – following the mess created by the market over Christmas.    I did think about Edinburgh’s closed green spaces then – Queen Street Gardens, Heriot Row Gardens, Doune Gardens, Charlotte Square Gardens, and wondered if it was time to open these up to visitors as well as residents.

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It looks like the tolls we pay to cross the Forth and Tay road bridges may be scrapped.    It is in the SNP manifesto, and will probably attract enough support from other parties to get this through.    The Greens will be pretty angry though, and they are supposed to be in partnership (though short of a formal coalition) with the Nationalists.

This will be a popular move with bridge users, but it does raise some important questions.     We already know that the bridge is needing costly repairs, and that unless corrosion problems in the main cables can be addressed, the bridge will have to close, first to lorries, then all traffic.     Replacing the main cables is an option, but as this has not been done before, we are in unknown territory in terms of feasibility and cost.    One thing is certain – it won’t be cheap.

The bridge has only just been fitted out with a massive new Toll Plaza costing millions.    This is trialling cashless systems at present, and there have also been trials with cameras that can tell how many passengers a car has inside, with a view to charging less for a well-filled car.     The new Toll Plaza could well become a very expensive white elephant overnight.

Making it free will raise other issues:   how will removing the tolls affect congestion?    How many jobs will be lost?    Will we still need traffic control at the south end of the bridge?

If this goes through, there will be the big question of how to pay for the massive maintenance bills.    The current resurfacing of the northbound carriageway is costing over £3 million.   There is the recent investment in the Toll Plaza to be explained away, and presumably redundancies to handle.   The bridge employs over 100 staff.

This is before we consider a new crossing (please let it be a tunnel).

There are certainly two sides to £1 coin that we car drivers currently pay to cross the river Forth.

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