Gordon says...get recycling
Lobby-Lite06 January 2008 11:21 AM
As an (occasionally) dedicated public affairs consultant I’m constantly advising clients and colleagues on the latest directives and ‘suggestions’ from Government. With the New Year coming round and feeling the pressure to ‘improve myself’ with some resolutions I figured perhaps I should tie up some of these government suggestions with my own well being and lifestyle choices. Following the theme of ‘Simon Says’ (the game our exasperated parents made us play on long car journeys as children) maybe I could spend a week doing exactly what Gordon Says. I’ll blog on a different one each week but for today it seems logical to start with something high up the political agenda so here goes: Gordon says…get recycling.
Coinciding with an acceptance that moving house in this financial climate was not a sensible move and deciding instead to maximise space in our current place we got a perfect opportunity to put recycling to the test.
We decided to upgrade both our TV’s to flat screens, remove the large TV stands and attach the news ones to the wall. Instant space maximiser - as Kirsty and Phil would say! But what to do with the old sets? Working perfectly yet just too large for tiny London flat. Charity shops don’t accept electrical goods and the council will take them away for a fee but simply crush them – which seems a terrible waste - and completely counteracts what ‘Gordon says’. So I signed up to Freecycle. For the uninitiated, Freecycle is a system (or online community as it’s known formally) where, on joining the group for your local area, you receive emails from other members offering their unwanted objects, requests for wanted objects and pleas for information. The rules are simple. No money changes hands, the goods must be picked up within three days and charities should be given priority if they request the object you’ve offered. Sounds easy huh?
Skimming back through previous offerings we figured our TVs would be highly desirable. And within seconds of sending my email I’ve got requests. Instant buzz! First guy I reply to says he’ll be round in an hour to pick it up. Sorted. And we wait. And wait. And wait. After 4 hours I email. The response says he got held up – I should offer the TV to the next person. Charming – buzz deflates and confidence in the quality of our rubbish is seriously dented. Next email was from George. George turned up within 15 minutes and took the first TV off our hands. He asked for the second one too. We declined out of fairness to the 14 other emails I’d received by then but we are now convinced our TV is either on sale in a dodgy second hand TV shop in Kilburn or on eBay!
The third person on the list was an American lady. I offered her the second one. She took procrastination to the limit and only just picked up the TV this afternoon. Ten days later. And she scared us. A lot. I’ve had numerous emails from this woman – all supposedly about one TV. I’ve had dramatic emails sent at midnight when she was in a strong state of depression, guilt emails when I dared to turn my blackberry off on New Years Day and she wanted to know if the batteries in the remote worked, long winded diatribes about 3 hour dental appointments, bad theatre trips and her problems with her parents probate. When she finally arrived we handed her the TV from the front door (no way was she coming inside), and we are now a little worried cause she knows where we live. Were we just being terribly British and too polite not to tell her where to go when she got so over familiar and was seven days late? Is it acceptable to tell your innermost secrets and problems to a complete stranger, over email, who is actually just trying to give you something for free? Actually, thinking about it, maybe she was just offloading her rubbish back on us in some kind of reciprocal effort?
On the plus side seeing what people give away, and what people take is fascinating. My work colleagues are now continuously subjected to my guffawing over back copies of magazines from 2002 being offered, boats being requested (yes seriously) random bits of computers needed and (the most worrying) the instant take up of a “sofa bed (stained in places)”. There must be a sociological research project somewhere comparing the wants and offerings of those in Westminster with those in Hackney.
Comedy email names raise a chuckle too (do Miss Miamiow or Superloftman actually put those email addresses on their CVs?) and I’m constantly amazed by dreadful spelling and grammar. In response to the TV offer, I got a reply stating “I am very interesting. Please call me on…” I am intrigued whether this was a genuine request for the TV or a just a bloke trying his luck thinking that without a TV I may need entertaining!
But…at the end of a comical (and sometimes fearful thanks to the woman now known in our house as ‘Mad TV lady’) ten days we’ve got more space in our flat, and can feel smug about not increasing landfill. So freecycle is a great idea – just make sure your email spam filter has a nutter filter too.
Next week, in the spirit of the January detox, I’ll try the old favourite: ‘Gordon says do thirty minutes exercise a day’.
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