In England local government imposes stupid regimes upon its subjugates. They are required to separate their refuse into various categories such as paper, food waste, metal, glass and, if they’re lucky, the authorities will arrange an occasional collection at whatever interval most successfully ensures that the food waste is thoroughly putrid and attracting a suitable number of flies and maggots. Woe betide the man or woman who fails strictly to obey its ordinances, for he or she will be deserving of the full penalty of the law.

Things in Thailand are a bit more relaxed. My maid has trained me to put my used glass bottles, cans and cardboard in a particular cupboard. She then takes this away each week to sell to supplement her modest income.

Yesterday I gave her an old computer, monitor and scanner that I no longer needed. She was pleased.

And today I needed to get rid of a couple of electric heaters. (It sounds crazy having electric heaters in Thailand, but in parts of the north they are useful for a few nights each year.) And there was an old lamp and motorcycle helmet. As soon as I’d turned my back one of the security guards (and older chap who is really friendly and smiles a lot) was approaching. He asked if I was throwing the things out. Five minutes later they’d gone.

(Normally my thrown out things disappear overnight, so it was a bit of a novelty to be asked.)

In England it’s only the tired slogans of the hair-shirted environmentalists that are efficiently recycled. Here in Thailand it’s a way of life.


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