Waste not, want not

“…We throw away without a sense of responsibility; without guilt or shame; without acknowledging the dignity of the Earth that has given of itself for our so-called gain. We spite the Mother that has done nothing but provide for our every whim.  

The long-term viability of humanity—as well as all other species and the planet itself—is being compromised for the sake of convenience. Faster, cheaper, easier. That’s the mantra of Modern Society. It’s a sad testament to the supposed ingenuity and genius of humankind. Plunder, pillage, profit. Repeat ad nauseam…”

This quote is from a blog I came across today that echoes so many of our thoughts as we eke out our ‘alternative’ lifestyle in our hilltop retreat (http://www.thenewpursuit.com/).

Any tins and plastic go to fill up the area behind the big wall surrounding the caravan as these weigh much less than soil and the area needs to be filled. Paper and cardboard are burned in the log burner.  Food waste, ie peelings, are put on the compost heap.  If there is any leftover food, down the toilet it goes.  Long ago we got used to the fact that putting toilet paper down the pan is a no-no (quite interesting for first-time visitors!) – we use one of those douche type shower sprays which is more effective than a bidet.

Water is a very precious resource to us, so we don’t flush the toilet every time.  The black water from the toilet goes through a filtration system where bacteria will digest any faeces and food products we put down the toilet and the resulting water is sucked up by the surrounding trees. The grey water, ie from the sink and bath, goes into a tank and is used all around the garden.  A fairly interesting lifestyle, you will agree!

Over the months I’ve been taking photos of the rubbish dumps that litter this particularly beautiful part of the Andalusian countryside.  The concept of recycling doesn’t seem to have caught on particularly well here, although at strategic sites separate containers exist.

Salares tipArchez tip May 14As we drove past another, well used, basura (waste tip), I wondered why they’re so messy. The answer came back quick as a flash, obvious really. The locals around here seem wired differently to us, and (a) must feel so bad at having such an embarrassment of riches – beautiful coastline, whitewashed villages and mountains – that they need to disguise the areas with all manner of refuse, and (b) what basura they do save for the tip is thrown first around the metal skip, and only when that is full will they expend more energy into getting the rubbish into the skip itself. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this before.

Hardcore on side of rd 12 Apr 14 (3)Having said all this, we are reaping massive rewards from our local tip and the huge piles of hardcore and building stone being tossed away.  For the last three weeks Joe has been building a 21m wall adjacent to the house and has been making many forays into the mountains to pick up loose stones.  A long, slow process involving wear and tear on the Nissan, especially since he got the bit between his teeth and accelerated the process to do two or even three trips a day.

Salares during boning trip Mar 14 (7)Salares tip hardcore JB 8 May 14The end of the project seemed a long way off until one day when Lady Luck gave him one of her rare smiles.  He went on a recce slightly further afield to the nearest village and stumbled upon a goldmine under a blanket of weeds. Someone had obviously dismantled a building at some stage and dumped building stone, bricks and hardcore.  Just what the doctor ordered!

Car park wall 19 May 14 (3)New house wall 26 Apr 14He discovered other piles of discarded materials dotted around the area.  The fenced-off tip, when unlocked, has been a great provider of hardcore and stone. Recycling makes you feel good!

Car park wall 20 May 14 (1) So far, the wall has devoured about 15 tons of stone and hardcore, and will need probably another 5 tons.  I’m quite amazed that Joe’s had both the stamina and balls to grovel around and bring back these treasures.  Each stone is treated with reverence, and placed carefully on what is fast becoming a massive work of art!

He disappears for a few hours, “Lyn, I’m just going to get another load…” just as if he’s popping out to the supermarket.  I’m amazed and delighted that we are getting back something from this country as, at times, it’s felt like the scales have been tipped rather unfairly against us.  And who, these days, can really afford to throw such good stone? Joe’s been dying to build a wall here but we’ve been held back because of the cost – we’d estimated that the wall would have swallowed up between 5-10 loads of building stone at something like 350-400 euros a load.

Log & stone boning 11 May 14 (4) Log & stone boning 11 May 14 (3)The other nice thing to happen to us is that we’ve been benefiting greatly from the Junta heavy mob.  The teams have been hard at work pruning trees to re-establish the firebreaks around the Parque area, and cutting down the garrigue (shrub).  They cut the branches into logs and leave them neatly on the side of the road. “Just take them”, they said, “we don’t want them”.  No one else has been remotely interested, so we now have more than enough wood for the coming year.  Not just that, but a little way up La Maroma swathes of whole trees have been felled that nobody knows or cares about, seasoning nicely, waiting there for us to commandeer at some time in the future.

Mugs from Salares tip 19 May 14 (2) Mugs from Salares tip 19 May 14 (1)One day on one of his many basura trips, Joe returned with these four insulated half litre mugs plus two massive pottery cups, with German writing on, in pristine condition.  The things they throw away!

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