My parents were never a fan of recycling. It’s a shame really, when you think about how many people are out today, dedicating large swathes of their lives to saving our planet – one Coke can at a time. My parents didn’t like Coke either, but that’s beside the point. They both came from the higher echelons of the upper classes, used to having servants deal with their refuse (and even the help would have objected to recycling). I guess it’s what you would call a generational thing. Growing up through the forties and fifties, my Mum and Dad were part of that awkward generation of adults who never quite figured out how to have a good time.
Their moral belief systems went beyond the limitations of black and white. Whole cultural activities were branded with the tarred brush of entire movements. Blues music was for civil rights sympathisers. Vegetarianism was for hippies. And recycling? Well, recycling was for communists. So, if I had wanted to start sorting through the rubbish like all the other ‘filthy reds’ on my street, I would’ve had to have done it in secret.
I didn’t want to anyway. Like most kids, I believed my parents’ word was gospel: they never spoke a lie and what they said – I said. So for the first couple of decades of my life, I blindly followed. Throwing everything we didn’t want straight into the bin, where it would be unceremoniously dumped in to a landfill, we must have contributed to a good hundred square feet of rubbish over the years. I didn’t feel guilty about this until I left home for university. Upon arriving in London, I was awash with an intense feeling of remorse. I had spent years gleefully dumping all my life’s waste into the Earth and now, surprised by the support for recycling, I could not take it back.
When it came to starting my career as a plumber, acting in an environmentally professional manner did not come to me easy. The lessons that I had taken from my college and university courses had not taught me how to practically adapt my newfound obsession for recycling. So as such I invested in plastic pipes, l threw away offcuts and I burned a stupid amount of fuel in my horrifically inefficient Transit. I knew there were best practice guidelines out there, but I just didn’t know to access them!
Thank the Lord, for the internet. With the arriva of the World Wide Web, it was easier than ever to gain information. I started to collate data and methods on how to reduce my carbon footprint and I was soon putting together articles on the best way to build sustainably. So you’re probably wondering what the answer is to the question in the title of my essay: ‘Sustainable pipes – Do They Matter?’
You might feel a little cheated at my answer, but I believe there is no one single issue within our building trade that ‘matters’. To become a sustainable tradesman, within any field, you must embrace all aspects of the environmentally friendly ethos. Keep reading here at SBP and you might just be able to figure it out one day!