Monday, 7 June 2010


Disability is really not good for the environment. Public transport around here is actually pretty good - accessible buses from our doorstep into town, into Oxford, over to the hospital, every few minutes and all day long. Wonderful. Unless you happen to have two wheelchair users in the family. Same with trains; I guess disabled people aren't supposed to know other disabled people and spend time with each other. So, we drive most places. And, because we have two (sometimes three) wheelchair users in the family, we have a rather large bus instead of the small family car three of us could sit in if we didn't need the equipment. And it's mostly just me driving around in it. Not great for the environment.

With medical needs come inordinate amounts of packaging. Mog's feed comes in a tin; one tin lasts 2.2 days. So far, the Guides have absorbed a fair few of the tins; we've made them into drums, stilts, planted daffodils in them to give to old ladies. At home they're pencil tubs and money boxes, storage for the spare little fiddly things you get with flat pack furniture. But I'm running out of options; we've around a hundred spare at the moment, so if anyone wants some nice metal tins with plastic lids (think baby formula tin), please feel free. Bright yellow plastic scoop included as extra free gift.

We put the powder into a disposable plastic bottle; a new bottle each day now although at one point it was three bottles a day. Each bottle gets connected to a giving set. Each bottle and each giving set is wrapped in plastic, thirty of these are posted into a cardboard box, and mountains of wrongly sized ones are stacked on the shelves of my garage. Today I refused an incorrect order; I wanted half the order but did not want the bottles and giving sets we don't use any more. I was not allowed to accept half the order; it was all or nothing. So, I refused the whole lot and phoned the feed company. Who informed me that the boxes I had refused would now be destroyed. Brand new, sealed, boxes of giving sets and flexitainers, all individually sealed and wrapped, never been across my doorway just from their warehouse into a delivery van and back to the warehouse. And now they have to be destroyed because the box has had a sticker with my daughter's name on it and they couldn't possibly just remove the sticker and put someone else's on. They did however manage to catch the delivery man; apparently because they caught him before they got back to the warehouse they were in fact able to redeliver my order and now only half of it will be destroyed. But still - that's sixty pieces of sterile kit being incinerated for absolutely no good reason.

Meanwhile previous old supplies fester in our garage. And those we do use just add to the mass of waste we produce. Bottles into the recycling bin, but our recyclers refuse the giving sets and wrappers. And the cardboard box, together with the boxes from the catheters, and the boxes from the inco pads, etcetera etcetera and so on, pile up. I was taking a monthly trip to the tip, but on our last visit the men in yellow jackets informed me my bus was too heavy and I now need a commercial permit before I can visit again. So that's not happening. I took a few boxes to Tesco, only to be shouted at by a fellow recycler for having too much recycling and not leaving space for anyone else. And now they're taking over the garage, piling up, floor to ceiling and side to side, a rapidly impenetrable blockade preventing me from reaching more useful supplies. It's not disastrous, a couple of our carers are more than fashionably thin, so we just send them in. But there's a distinct possibility they might not make it out again.

And the waste keeps on piling up. Disposable everything, wrapped in disposable layer after layer, paper and plastic and cardboard and more plastic, and some days it feels as though the house is slowly drowning in a sea of wrappings. Plastic waves with packing peanut foam, Cardboard icebergs, drifting across the kitchen, ready to catch out the unwary.

And on a totally unrelated note, the other lesson I didn't need to learn yesterday was that sniffer dogs still prefer the scent of a cat to anything else they might be trained to sniff out. Unless they've been trained to sniff (and chase) cats, which seems a little odd.



Tina said...

I love our dustmen. They collect paper cardboard plastic tins glass. Al in one pick up from our front gate. They also come back later the same day and take mountains of black bags with never a moan.
But agree on the waste. I have two unopened boxes of concentrated feed no one wants. And the packaging is phenominal.

Anonymous said...

I am going to be sending the company back my waste for them to dispose of ! I doubt the boses are opened pre incineration.

MOM2_4 said...

We have regular pick up of recycleables here, but it's really not regular enough to handle our production of said items. It's crazy! All the neighbors bring out these nice little bags of trash while we make several trips. Makes me want to hide in shame.

If I were you, I'd take smallish amounts to Tesco as often as possible ;-P the same fellow recycler can't be there every time you are. That or go under cover of darkness ;o)

Hugs & Prayers,

Order and Chaos said...

Would one of those overseas medical aid companies be interested in the giving sets? I know in the hospitals we used to send stuff no longer needed off to a UK company which provided support in war-torn countries.

Anonymous said...

I echo what PaganGraceCat said and suggest you contact an aid organisation. There will be someone willing to take the medical supplies off your hands.
Are you a member of any online support groups? I know that sometimes our US friends will pay postage for this sort of item as their insurance companies don't provide enough for their wee ones. Worth offering them about?
If I lived closer I would gladly take the empty tins from you as they are idea for storing items about the farm. Just a pity I am too many miles away.

PMDPeter said...

Our recycling take everything we put in it whether our LA can recycle it or not. As long as it ha a recycle mark on it they get it. This includes all the plastic/paper wrappers from syringes and giving sets, plastic bottles, outer wrappers from continence products. The outer corrigated carboard gets flattened and I take it to the Tidy Tip every few months in our Van (not quite as big as yours though) All the used plastics and continence supplies go in a 'clinical waste' bag which is collected weekly.
If I refuse any of the monthly feed stuff supply (I never asked what happens to it once they get it back) I contact our Dietitian to inform them so they can check the invoices so they dont pay for stuff not accepted. The cost then stays with the supply company for getting it wrong. They do seem to be getting it right almost every time now.

Hazel said...

Re cardboard, tins, etc. Join your local Freecycle group. I joined ours when we were clearing out to move abroad, and I was amazed at the stuff that I would have considered to be rubbish, which other people were more than willing to come and take off my hands... even bags of shredded paper went to the local animal rescue shelter. There's a Freecycle website where you can find your nearest group and sign up.

Re medical stuff, as a couple of people have already said, send it abroad... in fact the reason why I remembered your post is because I heard something on the radio today about a local "bring and share" scheme here where people can bring in their no-longer-wanted medicines etc, and other people can come and hopefully find what they need for free.... government healthcare here is free for the poorest, but very few medicines or equipment are free even in the government hospitals. There are probably existing schemes that you can send stuff easily from the UK, otherwise get in touch and we'll try and figure out a route to Argentina.


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