I didn’t realise that I was starting to turn into a French style recycler until English friends who visited commented on my use of old vinyl records as coasters and place mats, the fact that I use old plastic packets as cloches in the greenhouse and that I steal their newspapers to line my chicken coop trays – my girls seem to be particularly partial to the Daily Mail and cover it liberally with their droppings.
I suppose it’s sort of crept up on me this recycling thing – it’s so prevalent here that you just start doing it without even being aware. Remy my neighbour makes duck houses out of 20 litre oil containers, M-T my other neighbour makes vases out of old bouteilles (bottles) and I am quite sure that I saw someone in the local town wearing a coat made out of flour sacks last week – I am certain that had Karl Lagerfeld seen it he would have copied it tout de suite.
When we first came to France we’d put something outside our gate to take to the déchetterie (rubbish dump) when we had time and we’d be amazed that within minutes – seconds even sometimes – things would go. We once put a coal oven outside – it must have weighed half a ton and looked like it hadn’t been cleaned for a hundred years – gone in minutes! It’s not just amazing that someone would want a broken lamp, gym bench or hideous door but we see such little sign of life here that almost everyone looks up if a car goes by even. So who is taking this stuff? Will I go into my neighbour’s house one day and see it looking like my own house 10 years ago?
These days far less goes outside the gates for anyone to take, I always try to think how I can recycle something and as usual I get help and advice from neighbours – someone suggested to me recently that I should collect the copious amounts of slimy giant snails in my garden to make a “lovely meal” out of – but I’m not quite that far gone… yet.