Trying to Help Mother Nature on My Rock

Living on a rock in the middle of the Atlantic is not easy on the environment. Think about it, you have 60,000 + people living, going to work by cars and scooters, eating out or in, etc… all these daily actions can take a toll on the island and the ocean around us.

When we first moved to the Rock back in 2006, I was appalled to find out there was no recycling of any kind. I remember emailing the government and receiving a reply explaining that the money and oil for tanker to bring our recycled goods to the US, was not cost effective and therefore, they chose to simply burn the trash and converted into energy for Bermuda and use the ashes to make cinder blocks. I don’t know if that last point is true but I thought it was cool and decided to drop it.

Our second time around things have changed a bit. When I moved, I received a recycling schedule in the mail. This prompted me to look on-line on http://www.gov.bm where I found this:

Where does my garbage and recycling go?

All household waste placed out for collection is taken to the Tynes Bay Waste to Energy Facility where it is incinerated to make energy for Bermuda.

Blue recycling bags are taken to the Material Recovery Facility (MRF) where items are sorted and then shipped to the US to be converted into new consumer items.

Special waste items such as paints, pesticides and other potentially harmful substances are  shipped to the United States for processing or disposal in USEPA regulated landfill facilities.

Our second time around I am trying to be better for mother earth (and the island). I am recycling all my tin, aluminum and glass. Before leaving London I bought a compost bin and I am trying to compost for our vegetable garden.  Yes, I have a vegetable garden.

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My garden is growing very nicely. 

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My compost bin imported from UK. On amazon.co.uk, for 50 quid. I saw one at Gorhams for $189.00! Ouch. But I did find out on-line that if you want to compost in Bermuda, the government will sell you a bin for $80.  Backyard composters are available for purchase from Waste Management for $80.00. Call (441) 278-0563 or email recycle@gov.bm to purchase an Earth Machine brand compost bin.

Another thing I noticed this second time around, there seem to be more farmer’s market on weekends which I think is excellent. Fruits and Vegs are extremely expensive on the island and when you take the time to go to any of the farmer’s market on Saturday morning, it is worth it.

But coming back to what we are trying to do better in our house. Of course, I have 10 bags in my car at all times to go shopping with. I say no to plastic bags at the stores. If I forgot my bags I go back to the car or if I only have one of two items, I carry them out to the car on their own.

No more disposable straws. Only these silicone and plastic straws that I bought on Amazon. They come with brushes so they are easy to clean. If I serve you a smoothie or a cocktail that requires a straw, you will find one of these in your drink.

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If I feel like having a cup of coffee and I am out and about, I use this cup. No cup, no coffee. Same thing with water bottles. I bring my bottle from home. I really try to avoid using unnecessary plastic, cardboard or paper if I can. I think if we all did this, it would really help the Rock we live on.

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The Twelve Tasks of Asterix

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Last week I was walking around Hamilton with my brother, Louis and his wife, Manon,when Peter called and asked me to pick up his squash rackets at the post office. Peter had ordered himself some new rackets and since it was free delivery anywhere in the world, he just had them shipped to his office address. He knew we would have some duty to pay but only once the rackets were on the Rock.

Daddy cool had received a phone call from someone at the post office informing him of the arrival of his package and that someone could come and get it after paying the duty. So of course, he calls Mama to see if I could go to the main post office on Church Street and see if I could pick them up for him. ”Worth a try!” he said.

Off I went to the main post office on Church street with Louis and Manon in tow. As soon as I entered the building, one of the ladies behind the counter asked, ”What is the purpose your visit here?”

”My husband received a call and was told to come here and get his package. I am wondering if I could pick it up on his behalf.”

”Do you have the orange slip?” she asked. I replied that I didn’t and that Peter never mentioned an orange slip.

She informed me that I needed a slip to pick up any package. Then she asked, ”How on earth does he know he has a package if he doesn’t have an orange slip?”

I wanted to reply, I told you someone called him at work and told him his package was here but I decided to use a polite tone and repeat myself, ”My husband received a call and was told to come here and get his package. I am just wondering if I could pick it up on his behalf?”

Now, I must mention that I was trying to focus really hard on the business at hand, which was picking up Peter’s rackets, but I was being distracted with the woman’s beard. No kidding, she had enough of a beard and a mustache to make me wonder if she was going through a sex change to become a He. Or if she simply had always been like this and then my brain was asking itself, ”why doesn’t she go see someone about this?” I mean, it was bad. But I kept my cool, decided to be patient and focus.

”Well, since you don’t have the orange slip, I suggest you go downstairs and ask them. That’s where the packages are anyways.” Geez, I literally just wasted a good 7 minutes talking to this lady and now she tells me I have to go downstairs anyways!

Before I went downstairs I looked outside and could still see Louis waiting for me so I just went down to the basement of the post office. Of course when I got to the International Package line, there was a line. So I waited, another 15 minutes until it was my turn.

I explained myself once again and the young lady behind the counter looked very annoyed with me. She informed me that since I did not have the infamous orange slip, I was not getting the package. I told her that Daddy Cool got a call at work. She did not care. No slip, No package! Already then. At this point I am thinking, screw it, Peter can come when he gets this orange slip.

I go back upstairs and as I am trying to exit the building, mustache lady yells out, ”Well honey! did you get your package?” I wanted to reply, ”Does it look like I have anything in my hands?” but instead I said, ”No, it’s okay, I don’t have the orange slip so I will have to come back.”

”Hold on a minute. Let me speak to the supervisor and see.” Off she went into an office. I looked outside and no sign of Louis anywhere.

She came back out with the supervisor. ”Tell my supervisor what you told me.”

”My husband received a call at work saying his package was here ….” I hadn’t finished when she said, ”Peter Cooper?”

”Yes”

”Yes, yes, I called him. Go back downstairs and tell them Mrs. Trott sent you. Get your package.”

I replied, ”But I don’t have the orange slip.”

”Don’t worry, I will call someone down there and instruct them to give you the package.”

Before I went back down in the bowels of the Post Office building I went to look outside for Louis and Manon, Mustache lady called back and told me the stairs were the other way, to which I replied, ”I know but my brother has been waiting for me all this time.”

I saw Louis walking on Church Street, back to where we came from. He thought I had already exited the building and did not see me. He was far enough that he didn’t hear me yell out his name but he heard my whistle. As soon as he saw me , he waved and I went back into the building to get the bloody rackets.

In The Basement

When it was finally my turn again, I spoke to the same attendant as before. She had not received the phone call from Mrs. Trott. She looked around and a gentleman was coming out of his office and said, ”Mrs Cooper?” ”Yes.”

”Tahitia (could have been laticia or any of those names that ends in ”itia”) give Mrs. Cooper her husband’s package.”

She told him I had no orange slip and if she had known Mrs. Trott had phoned my husband, she would not have turned me away. She apologized and I said it was okay.

Then came the task of finding it. Another long 5 minutes of looking out back but then she finally came back with a box in the shape of rackets. She opened the package in order to get an invoice to calculate the duty I was to pay. No invoice. I told her I had it in email form on my phone. I got an annoyed look while she pointed at a bulletin in front of her counter. The bulletin clearly stated that all invoices had to be printed on paper for their records. My brain said, ”FUCKKKKKKKK!” my smile said, ”I am truly sorry, I only have it on my email.”

”Forward that email to blah, blah, blah postoffice.bm and I will go print it. Another 5 minutes went by until she resurfaced with the invoice and a calculator. She had not done the calculations, just had gotten the paperwork.

Anyways, 15 minutes and three signatures later, (I actually joked and asked if we were getting married since I had not signed so much paperwork since my wedding. I got a laugh.) she handed me the bloody rackets and I just grabbed them and climbed up the stairs to get back into the sunlight. When I met Louis and Manon outside and explained what had just happened in the last 40 minutes my brother said, ”Sounds like you just did ”Les douzes travaux d’Astérix!” Indeed, they were not Herculean tasks but at times annoying ones….but I got the rackets and that’s all that counts.