Back in the UK we used to have three large wheelie bins – one for composting , one for dry recycling and one that would go to landfill. All three were emptied every two weeks, and we tried really hard to recycle whatever we could.
Our rubbish consumption has plummeted since moving here I’m happy to say, and we just keep one small black plastic bin here that we take to empty once a week, separating the different rubbish in the back of the car before we go, so that we can recycle as much as we can. We were amazed to read that Almeria province manages to recycle 93% of all waste.
Rubbish collection works a little differently here – houses don’t have their own wheelie bins. Instead there are large communal bins around the village, and you can take your rubbish to them after 5pm. As well as the large grey bins for landfill, there are large bins for glass, cardboard and plastic.
We try to use less plastic – we now have net bags for the veg stall which we can use again and again, and we still have our bags for life that we bought many years ago in the UK, so it’s very rare that we need a carrier bag from a shop. Simply not eating meat or processed food reduces our rubbish hugely. Any jars get washed out and reused for the homemade marmalade and chutney. There’s no egg boxes these days as we never buy eggs.
As for other stuff that many might consider to be rubbish, well, we try to use as much as we can here. Cardboard boxes are great when flattened for lining the bottom of the dogs kennels – they’re good insulation. Any food waste (not that there is much)gets composted or given to the chickens. And if something gets delivered on a pallet, wow, happy days! The things you can do with old pallets is amazing! Even if it’s old and a bit the worse for wear, it can still be firewood. When the new fridge was delivered it was surrounded by polystyrene – which we’ve used on the back of the bodega door (which is metal), to try and stop the heat in the summer. Whist in an ideal world we wouldn’t have ended up with a load of polystyrene, we really did need a new fridge, and it’s better that the packaging gets reused than thrown out!
When we moved in here the whole finca was littered with rubbish – bits of old kitchen under the trees, piles of old tiles that had sunk into the ground, loads of pipes, bits of fencing, it really was a mess … and that was just outside! The house was crammed full of stuff – old beds with mattresses you really didn’t want to touch, wardrobes full of clothes – it was like they left one day and then just never came back! Sorting out an 87 year old man’s dirty Y Fronts may have mentally scarred me forever 😂 I’ve never been one to use marigolds for cleaning, but I went through several pairs in just the first week here!
It took months to sort through properly. We salvaged things we thought might be useful then took the rest a little at a time up to the bins each day. Roger spent days gathering up the piles of tiles, and these were invaluable! When we did up the bodega, our builder used them to tile the walls and floor – ok so it’s a bit of a crazy pattern, but that’s fine by us! It did the job!
There were 8 old IBC’s up on the third terrace, which used to be used for storing water before the finca was hooked up to irrigation water. These have proved invaluable for all sorts! One is used to catch rainwater off the roof terrace, which we can use to water the plants, then there’s the dog kennels and the chicken coop and run! The top of the chicken run is made from a pergola that we tried to have on the roof – despite it being bolted into the roof, the wind ripped it apart. Makes a good roof for the run, and the rest of it made a nice handrail up the outside stairs!
We do occasionally decide that something needs throwing away though … the other day we had to move all the tree nets. Whilst heaving them around, we commented that in almost three years we’d never used them! So they’re just taking up valuable space! We picked out a few of the best ones to keep just in case, and piled the rest near the gate to take down to the bins on the next run. We’ll that’s plan has changed! Persi and Luna have taken a liking to them … they now have a day bed!
We have now set up our own reclamation yard in one corner of the finca, and it’s piled with all sorts of things ‘that might come in useful one day’ – sure beats going out and spending money on new stuff! It’s great fun too getting imaginative and creative using the stuff we have!