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Meet my leetle freen’ Johanna

Many activities which appeal to stupid people for stupid reasons appeal to me for good reasons. Really good reasons. Really. It is my curse.

I mean hippies. And recycling (also patchouli, but that doesn’t really figure here). Human beings don’t make enough garbage to spoil the view, let alone wreck the planet (except maybe in China, which is full of diabolically clever and hard-working little people). Upscale Western suburbanites sorting their garbage into colorful plastic bins to be picked up by a fleet of giant belching diesel trucks to Save the Earth is an idea so pointless, loony and mathematically-challenged that even I can work out the formula.

It goes like this: if it is more expensive to recycle a thing than make it from scratch THAT MUST MEAN it requires more energy to do so (in some cases, a lot more energy) and that makes Gaia cry.

Yes. Yes, my hippies. There is recycling that is bad for the planet. Perhaps most of it, as it is practiced today.

And yet…waste is a terrible thing. Maybe because I am sometimes poor…maybe because I was raised by a pack of wild hippies. Whatever. Wasting a thing that can easily be reused offends me right down into my bones. It is an aesthetic judgment, not a scientific one — but I’m an aesthetic sort of a weasel, so bite me.

And zo…meet my new compost bin. Not any compost bin. Oh, no. This is a Green Johanna — a Swedish design that will devour tea bags, coffee grounds, banana peels, meat and fish (including bones!), garden clippings and all that goddamned fruit and veg you buy but don’t eat before it goes off — oh, yes. I’ve seen you do it — and transform them into lovely, glossy black soil. Which, using the magic of whatever the hell it is he does in that greenhouse, Uncle B will transform back into delicious food (if things carry on getting worse, he says, we’re going to grub up the front lawn and plant potatoes).

I love Johanna. I love her better’n that pig we had in the ’70s

And the sweet thing is, the local Council is so chock full of stupid hippies, they’re giving us a Johanna for £19.95, not the £114 list. Hooray for stupid hippies!


Comment from Gromulin
Time: December 2, 2008, 8:32 pm

Stick a toilet-plunger out the front of that thing and you’d have a smelly Dalek.

Comment from wendyworn
Time: December 2, 2008, 9:27 pm

I didnt realize that they had hippies over there in Britain. At least I thought they would have a different name for them.

It’s such a pretty little composter!

Comment from Ed
Time: December 2, 2008, 9:31 pm

Yeah, recycling, when it isn’t pushed on you like some sorta green totalitarian dictat isn’t so bad.

Say, do you have any extra ass porn lying around? I wouldn’t want it to go to waste.

Comment from Brigette Russell
Time: December 2, 2008, 10:08 pm

I’m one of the last people anyone would mistake for a hippy, but I’m about to google that neat little device and see if I can get one stateside. Now that this city girl lives out in the sticks and has to get her own trash to the dump, there is ample incentive for recycling some of it. Ever since we moved here I’ve been planning a nice big garden, but this year had a baby instead, so the garden had to wait. One exhausting project at a time.

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: December 2, 2008, 10:38 pm

For the record, recycling aluminum cans really is worth it. I had to crunch the numbers for a chemistry class assignment a while back. From what I recall, refining aluminum from bauxite ore accounts for something like a quarter of all the electricity the US uses in a year. Retrieving a given amount of aluminum from cans requires something like 10% of the energy required to refine the same amount from bauxite. So that makes a big difference, big diesel-belching trucks notwithstanding.

Comment from Jill
Time: December 2, 2008, 11:34 pm

When the DSB was living outside of Amish-land in Wilmington, Delaware, we happened upon a farmer’s market, and they were giving away composters. Seems there was some grant, and somebody bought a bunch of them with the grant money, and anybody who wanted one could have one for FREE. I took one, with the best intentions, because I plant a garden every year, but I ended up giving it away to someone who wanted to start a community garden.

Comment from Joanna
Time: December 2, 2008, 11:46 pm

Now that’s darn nifty. I recycle as much as I can, but that’s just because my mom raised me not to be wasteful. When I was a kid I took great pride in the fact that we only had two or three bags of garbage a week next to our neighbors’ five or six each. Of course, we didn’t find out about the cost/benefit thing until later, but I still recycle aluminum and glass. The plastic gets recycled just so it doesn’t fill up my trash cans too quickly. Yay for me. I tell you, if I wasn’t in an apartment, I’d get one of those things.

Is it true that all English citizens have the right to a garden?

Comment from MCPO Airdale
Time: December 2, 2008, 11:47 pm

Shall I mail you my banana peels and half rotted fruit and veg?

Comment from Allen
Time: December 3, 2008, 12:12 am

Pfft, these eco hippies are idiots. It’s called food and drink. I compost all the critter’s and plant’s leavings, ’cause it’s good food for next year’s crops and critters.

On the other hand I picked my ladyfriend’s olives. Stop that, she’s got some olive trees. 2 quarts of Olive oil we did.

Comment from scubafreak
Time: December 3, 2008, 12:14 am

My parents have had one next to their house for years. Never used it, it’s jst BEEN there…….

Comment from JuliaM
Time: December 3, 2008, 4:10 am

Hmm, given that a well-known method of kick-starting your compost is to get your chap to contribute, err, ‘man-water’ to it from time to time, it looks like they’ve missed a design trick somewhere in making it so tall….


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 3, 2008, 7:18 am

You’re absolutely right about aluminum, Mrs P. (Or aluminimumnium, as they call it here). That’s why there’s been aluminum recycling programs since forever.

That’s sort of the test. If a recycling program existed long before stupid hippies monopolized the conversation, then it’s cost-effective. If a thing is good business sense, good businessmen will do it without prodding, neh? If it isn’t good business sense, that’s de facto proof that it’s difficult (meaning expensive, meaning wasteful of resources).

It can’t be an absolute right, Joanna. Most places have allotments — small airable patches of land — on the outskirts of town for the benefit of city dwellers, but there’s no guarantee you’ll get one. Not enough to go around. And councils are forever stirring people up by threatening to do something else with that land.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 3, 2008, 7:23 am

Heh. The Daily Mail says this guy is making a killing.

I hate myself for reading the Mail.

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: December 3, 2008, 8:36 am

‘Man-water’? What’s that, beer? Oh…you mean wee-wee. That’s nasty. Nevertheless, I’m sure it’s nothing that can’t be overcome with a stepladder.

‘Oh, good morning Mrs. Jones. Just taking a big slash in my compost bin. Awfully brisk today isn’t it? How’s Mr. Jones?’

I’ve got a regular compost bin and worm compost bin. Oh, and a black bin full of rotting leaves. I like the idea of the Johanna, but the whole thing smacks of the council using taxpayer money to foist their green agenda, which sticks in my craw as Americans say.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 3, 2008, 9:18 am

Oh, yeah. It’s definitely the council using other people’s money to subsidise an agenda. And to justify every-other-week garbage pickup, more to the point. But, hey, we really were going to buy one of these anyway.

Every penny we can screw out of those bastiches…

Comment from Mrs. Peel
Time: December 3, 2008, 9:52 am

I “revise” for my exams, I go on “holiday,” I end my sentences with “full stops,” I tell people happy Guy Fawkes day, I describe my Great Books project as similar to “reading Classics at Oxford,” I giggle when someone says “fanny pack,” and I might even occasionally put “petrol” in my car, but I will never, ever, EVAH make my spaceships out of “al-yoo-min-ee-um.” This far, and no farther!!

Comment from Princess Bernie
Time: December 3, 2008, 11:23 am

I want one of those, too! I’m going to see about that.

With regard to alumimum recycling, yes, the energy part of it makes sense. But do you know where most of those cans and such are going for recycling?

China. They gotta put something in those shipping containers that go back across that pond once they’ve dropped off tons of prawn crackers, bamboo calendars and such that they’ve shipped to the US. Theoretically, they could end up with all of our al-you-minnie-um.

I know this cuz I dated a perfesser once who was writing a big ole paper about it.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 3, 2008, 4:05 pm

That’s where much of British unrecyclables go, we’ve been told: landfills in China. For ‘recycling’, Ha Ha. So, even if the hippies were right about the negative environmental impact of mere garbage, all they’re doing with it is sending it to someone else’s place to pollute.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: December 3, 2008, 4:12 pm

Hippies. They’re only cute when they’re very young.

…But you make me want a composter, too, Weaz.

Just because…

Comment from Brigette Russell
Time: December 3, 2008, 5:38 pm

The stupid hippies in the gov’t here apparently haven’t heard about the composters the stupid hippies in the gov’t over there are subsidizing, or they’d surely be doing it here too. As a citizen, I’m glad, but as a consumer who’d just as soon not pay $300 for one, well, darn.

Comment from Alice H
Time: December 4, 2008, 11:42 pm

Your composter will compost BONES?! WTF?! I was told when I set mine up to not put meat, bones, or dairy products in mine.

I drink enough coffee to fill mine with the grounds, anyway…

I wonder if they’ll sell you as many as you can buy, and you can sell them to us Amurricans for cost plus shipping plus, I dunno, ten bucks or so…

Comment from lauraw
Time: December 7, 2008, 4:44 pm

How in the dickens does it digest bones? I’ve done raw fish wastes pretty easily in a buried compost pit, but those are small and very eager to rot, unlike cooked beef or chicken bones.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: December 7, 2008, 5:13 pm

No idea. I’ll let you know. We just got the invoice, so Johanna can’t be far behind.

Comment from working_man
Time: December 8, 2008, 4:42 pm

I tried to make one of these work for a year and a half. Sold it to a hippie at work for more than I paid for it. So, all in all, a success!

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