A nation of hoarders?

Lucy Siegle, the Observer’s eco-zealot, says “UK consumers are hoarding £31bn of goods they’re not using.” No idea how she knows, as she doesn’t cite her source.

Not hoarding Ms Siegle, not for many of us anyway – we just can’t get shut of the bloody stuff.

Currently, I have a TV (perfect working order – I upgraded while I had the money, knowing I wouldn’t in the future), a bread machine, and a cross-trainer, all surplus to requirements. OK, maybe I should be using the last, but I don’t have the space; or the breath.

There is, as far as I can tell, no market for a decent but outdated Toshiba CRT TV – everyone, including me, has gone over to flat/wide-screen (just a shame programming hasn’t caught up, with digital channels mostly re-re-re-running old analogue stuff – often rubbish when it was new, and not improved by keeping  and  hey, soon we’ll be getting 3D crap, too), and the bread machine is fit only for the bin. And therein lies the problem.

As I’ve said before, the WEEE regulations prevent the easy disposal of electronic equipment, requiring you to take the stuff to recycling centres – impossible without a car or, in the case of the TV, maybe a van.

However, the bread machine is going in the bin, just as soon as I’m able to sneak it out, disguised as a bag of general refuse.

The council will come and take away the TV – for a £20 fee, about as blatant a rip-off as you’re likely to come across. Actually, they’ll take up to six item for 20 quid – subject to conditions. One potential, very heavily hinted-at condition, is that what you wish to offload isn’t actually  reusable. But let’s put it another way – if they get anything reusable they  can sell it, and go back to providing a free service. The cynic in me thinks they probably sell anything of value anyway – unofficially if not officially.

I also have an obsolete scanner, darkly defying me not to put it in the bin but that, too, will be slipped into a bag of general rubbish and discretely disposed off.

By the way, a few weeks ago, in the comment section of her weekly Observer Magazine column, I suggested that Siegle might like to give it a rest, as the constant bitching and whining about everything we do, or might want to do, being bad for the planet had lost its impact with its constant doom-mongering, and asked if she was familiar with the tale of The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Since then, comments have vanished and the tone of the column is rather more restrained.

Don’t know if I can claim the credit, but it’s certainly an improvement. To be honest, whether or not comments are allowed seems to be in the lap of the gods – they come and go with no discernible pattern or reason.

PS – Forget Freecycle – in the past its email updates have frequently crashed Outlook, or Mailwasher, so I don’t trust it.

2 thoughts on “A nation of hoarders?

  1. Hi Ron – it’s even difficult these days to donate perfectly good items to charity shops. I’ve done so for years but just in the past year or so I’ve noticed that many of them will only grudgingly take stuff – I’ve even seen them looking down their noses at brand new goods (unwanted gifts, for example). I’ve no idea why this strange attitude has suddenly emerged, but I’ve experienced it in a number of different organisations’ shops. As if they’re doing me a favour and I’m putting them out in some way. Weird. And very offputting.

    • Hi Deborah,

      The problem with charity shops is out old friend Health and Safety legislation. They’re constrained by laws on things like the degree of fireproofing of upholstered furniture, for example, and the electrical integrity of white and brown goods. The St. Vincent de Paul Society, for example, just down the road from me, have become very choosy over the last few years. There is some stuff you really can’t give away.

      However, since unwanted gifts are unlikely to come under those headings, they’re probably worried about shoplifting if things are too new. It does happen. Over the last couple of years I’ve bought a lot of second-hand books from https://www.greenmetropolis.com/ (5p from every sale goes to the Woodland Trust), and I’ll swear quite a few have been shoplifted to order (they don’t sell books – they link buyers with vendors, and take a commission, so it’s open to abuse). Books have been absolutely pristine yet, no matter how careful you are with a paperback, it’s impossible to avoid creasing the spine, no matter how slightly.


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