Friday 2 October 2009

Waste not, want not

A friend of mine had a bike that his children had grown out of. He didn’t want to throw away a perfectly good bike, and offered to pop it over to us as my girls didn’t have one. We were out for the day (at Bewilderwood – a fabulous place to take the kids!) so he promised to leave the bike tucked safely out of sight in our garden. But he’d never been to our house before, and wanted to make sure he didn’t leave it in some unsuspecting stranger’s garden, so he checked Google Streetview first. He told me his kids were very impressed when they arrived with the bike, and he knew exactly which house was ours – apparently by magic!

I love maps, so I find all these online mapping tools really fascinating, especially the ones with aerial photography overlays. I was browsing around, as you do, when I was struck by a vivid splotch of dark, dark green in the middle of the aerial photo of my parents’ back garden, out in the wilds of Suffolk.

The house isn’t connected to the main sewerage system, so the run off from the house drains into a septic tank. The dark green spotch turned out to be the area right above the septic tank. It’s the part of the garden where the fruit trees bear the most fruit, and where the grass - and the nettles - grow most vigorously. It must be far and away the most fertile spot in the garden. An ideal spot to plant a vegetable garden!

It reminded me of something from The Transition Handbook that stayed with me long after I finished reading it. As a way of bringing Transition’s vision of the future to life, the book contains a number of made-up “news articles from the future”. One of them was about a fictitious future company that collects the, shall we say, liquid waste from public conveniences around Totnes, and transforms it into liquid fertiliser for people’s gardens and community gardens.

And I thought, what a fabulous idea! Turning something that would otherwise be washed away - and wasted - into a useful product that in itself reduces our reliance on oil-based chemical fertilisers. It’s just this kind of creative thinking that I love about the whole Transition Towns concept – looking in new and different way at the things we take for granted. And rather than waiting for someone else to make decisions on our behalf, taking the future – our future – into our own hands.

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