When I was in Lapland, frequently lorries would roar past loaded with huge piles of timber. For what use does the world need this much paper? On returning to Berneray, the question was answered...
We are currently in the final stages of a bitter and acrimonious election campaign in Scotland. The people go to the polls next thursday, and many of them will be glad when it is all over. Though I fear that, whatever the result, the acrimony will continue and get worse.
Subsequently, politicians are going all the way to get every vote possible. I was sharply reminded of this when returning from Finland to see how much election literature had been delivered while away. Here's what I've got through my door in the last two weeks:
If you are very curious, brave or mad, you can click here to see a larger version of this picture (big file size), then you can make out more of the detail. I must warn you before you click on the link though - Scotland isn't generally noted for the physical attractiveness of its politicans. It's saying something that the high point of political makeovers are Tommy Sheridan's sauna bed sessions...
Most people hate receiving junk mail, such as election leaflets. And it is bad on many different levels; it wastes time, destroys trees, is usually just marketing spin, and ends up filling landfill sites.
I, on the other hand, welcome it. In this case, it goes straight into a very large container, half-filled with water. Then, I disappear to Lapland or somewhere else for a few weeks, and on return have a large container filled with paper mache:
This gets decanted, bit by bit, into the brick maker. Fill, put the black bit on top, fold over the handles and squeeze to remove most of the excess water:
Out of this comes slightly damp paper "bricks". Leave to dry on a rack in the garage or the weaving shed for a few weeks, and I have some lovely fire bricks. You don't get much flame, but you do get a lot of heat, and each brick lasts for about an hour.
Plus, they are effectively free, and hardly any hassle to make, apart from a few squeezes and the occasional stir of the cauldron of paper mache. Here's the final product which, as I type this, are burning merrily away to heat my house and hot water:
It's also friendlier to the planet than chucking paper in the bin, or it ending up in a landfill site. So am doing a small bit for the environment (or, at least, slightly offsetting the thousands of air miles am racking up every year) by bricking my waste paper.
So, politicians - please keep sending me your election bumph. The more the merrier. Some nice thick manifestos would also be appreciated, as each one could probably make a whole brick. Keep me informed of your policies, and it helps keep my fuel bills down. Vote fire bricks!