For years now, I’ve been in the habit of collecting dead drinks cans from the roadside, as I walk the dog. If I remember, I’ll take one of those plastic shopping bags that the Greens hate so much — my record haul from one walk was over thirty cans. More often, I collect a handful, crushed flat, in my jeans hip pocket. And of course they go for re-cycling.
I do this partly to tidy the lanes (though I draw the line at plastic bottles, fag packets, and McDonalds drinks cups and wrappers). Partly to demonstrate that climate sceptics are not necessarily careless of the environment. And partly because aluminium is one category where recycling is an unambiguous benefit. Other areas are decidedly iffy. It may be better to crush glass bottles for hardcore rather than recycle. For plastic, paper and cardboard, incineration-with-energy-recovery may be the best option. Odd how the Greens love bio-mass, but hate cardboard incineration. What is cardboard but bio-mass?
But with aluminium, the energy involved in extracting bauxite from the ground, and extracting the metal from the bauxite, is huge, and the advantage of recycling unequivocal.
As it happens, I drive an aluminium car. I suppose there’s an outside chance that some of the aluminium I’ve collected over the years is now parked in my cart-hovel.
And the Olympic angle? Since the Games have started, I’ve noticed a sharp increase in the proportion of so-called “energy drinks” amongst my daily haul. The picture above shows just three days’ worth. There’s “Red Bull”, and “Revive & Survive”, and “Source”, and the quaintly-named “Euro-Shopper Energy Drink”.
I’ve also noticed a considerable increase of the number of cyclists on the roads. Can it be that a generation has been inspired to take to their bikes — and that they’re drinking energy drinks and tossing the cans aside? I hope not. I have no proof. But it’s a plausible theory backed by strong circumstantial evidence.
May I appeal to cyclists — if you carry a full can when you start out, please carry the empty can to the end, and dispose of it properly.
For my fiftieth birthday, I was given a Taiwanese mountain bike (also aluminium, as it happens) and I rode it extensively in Singapore (Sentosa Island) and in the UK, until I was elected to the European parliament in 1999. After that, I never seemed to have the time for cycling (dog-walking takes priority). I have a dream: if and when I eventually retire, I may get the bike out, and refurbish it, and do some more cycling. And being of a libertarian cast of mind, I’ll hope that I can make my own decision about cycling helmets, pace Bradley Wiggins.