One of the benefits of getting older is learning from the past. We now live in such a throwaway society that I reckon nearly everybody reading this article will be doing so on Friday, April 26. In a previous time, you may have read this piece wrapped around a fish supper three or four days later.
The smell of deep-fried potatoes mingled with the aroma of vinegar (I’m from Glasgow, as I said) permeated through the days-old newsprint and combined to create an aperitif of the senses on the bus home (we were allowed to take hot food on public transport in the 1970s).
We had an unhealthy diet in the Sixties and Seventies but we cared about the environment, even though we didn’t know the meaning of the word “environment”.
Compare that to today’s disposable society. You don’t get that sensory experience with polystyrene. Indeed, you get very little with polystyrene. Except more polystyrene. It cannot be recycled. It has to go to landfill. Of course, recycling is only a partial solution to our current problems with waste, as it too produces carbon emissions. Re-use is the most environmentally friendly option. Sadly, it is not an option that is always on offer.
It’s not just yesterday’s news becoming tomorrow’s fish-and-chip paper. What happened to the deposit on juice bottles?
As a child, collecting empty bottles was a useful supplement to my pocket money.
In Australia and certain US states where a similar system still exists, it is a useful alternative to begging.
When I was playing at the Adelaide Fringe earlier this year, I would take my empties back to the bottle shop to get my ten-cent deposit back.
Back home, the neighbours look at the amount of empties in my blue box and assume I have a drink problem. In Australia, I’m seen as an eco-warrior.
The point I am making is that if you find another use for this copy of the Evening News, it will help reduce needless waste.
Obviously, some of you may be reading this on your tablet or laptop. Why not ask the guy behind the counter at your local chippie to serve your supper on your own iPad?
Plenty of hipster bars will serve up food on a variety of items that are not plates. I have eaten meals off slates, planks of wood and shovels and out of miniature buckets.
However, there has been progress since the 1970s.
Back then, football supporters would throw toilet rolls at games. Now, in 2019, some of those people are stockpiling toilet rolls in anticipation of Brexit.
The lesson is clear. Re-use rather than recycle.
This column could easily be re-used as toilet paper, unless you’re reading it on your tablet.
Try explaining that at the Apple Store.