Step back in time to save the planet

A new recycling centre could be built in Haverhill to replace the existing Chalkstone Way facility

Recycling centres are helping us live greener but should be look back to days gone by for inspiration? - Credit: GOOGLE MAPS

With all this talk of the Cop 26 climate change summit in Glasgow I’ve been thinking back to how life used to be when I was growing up and feeling a sense of deja vu.

It was a time when we were already doing lots of the things that we’re being encouraged to do now and into the future.

We shopped locally and seasonally, recycled bottles, had electric vehicles on our streets plus we generated hardly any waste. All the things we’re being encouraged to do today to save the planet.

I can remember going shopping with my mum every other day to get what we needed as a family. We’d walk or cycle to the butchers in Queens Way shops in Ipswich and mum would buy just enough meat for a couple of days.

On a Saturday she’d get a cheap cut of brisket for Sunday lunch which would last until at least until Tuesday. The meat didn’t come wrapped in plastic it was handed over in grease proof paper. It would be the same for the cheese, it would be cut off the size we needed and again handed over in grease proof paper.

Then we’d head to the vegetable shop. Stuff would be weighed out and either handed over in a brown paper bag or tipped straight into mums seemingly bottomless shopping bag.

There was no waste from packaging or from buying too much. She’d also buy seasonal, not like it is today when we get what we want when we want it, often flown in or shipped in from around the world.

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I did a feature this week on my breakfast show where we heard about a load of rotten cabbages which were found in containers in Felixstowe. I had callers asking: “Why are we importing cabbages in the first place when we grow them here?” A fair point?

We had milk delivered to our front doorstep from local dairies in electric milk floats and recyclable glass bottles. We also had an electric float from the Co-op come round selling fruit and veg. Yes, electric vehicles coming around every day! 

We had deposit schemes for empty bottles and took old newspapers to school to be recycled and make money for school funds. We also used to serve up our fish and chips in old newspapers, we seemed to have a reuse for everything.

At home we had a two-bar electric fire and in the winter used to push the settee closer to it to keep warm. We didn’t have central heating and if it was cold, we’d pull a jumper on or grab a blanket.

In the winter we often had ice on the inside of our window and got dressed for school under the covers. We all walked or cycled to school. No one went in car and so we didn’t have the issues of cars idling outside school gates or blocking driveways.

Fast fashion didn’t exist in those days, clothes are now so cheap we just throw them away. Back in the day mum would be forever unpicking old jumpers and turning them into scarves, hats and gloves. She darned our socks and put patches over any rips. If clothes had seen better days, they’d end up in the rag bag, again nothing went to waste. Shoes were mended and not thrown away.  

Consequently, when it came to our waste there was barely anything in our old metal dustbin. Now we have three big wheely bins outside our homes and they call that progress!

Perhaps as we look forward to saving the planet, we should also look back to some of the great things we did in the past! What do you think?

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