Saturday, 28 April 2007

Politicans have their uses...

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!


  1. Hi JohnDo you live up on the road above the fishing harbour where the public shower and loo are? Sort of opposite the history centre? I remember cycling past here meeting a man with a midlands sort of accent who greeted us at his gate and gave us leaflets about Berneray and pointed up toward the hostel.This was last spring. Was this you? Thanks for the info about the fire bricks. I recycle paper here in Liverpool but wonder whether it is then put to good use. I am going to have a go at this as several of my friends have coal fires and it would make a good gift!RegardsAlison (Radarsmum67)

  2. Some people have all the luck. :-(

  3. Surreptitious Evil29 April 2007 at 03:40

    Good point. We just shred the crap then compress it and turn it into logs. No wet stuff involved. I got about 30 leaflets through this morning alone.Come the 3rd of May, please.S-E

  4. Richard Thomson29 April 2007 at 08:07

    Nice! Glad to see that the leaflets which I and others toil to put through doors are occasionally put to good use once they've been read (or not) :-)

  5. I take it you're another one of the "I couldn't careless what happens" to Scotland/UK types.At least UKIP want to sack the MSP's. That's got to be good isn't it.

  6. Jeremy: you couldn't be more wrong on your first assumption. Roll on May 3rd!

  7. Scottish Roundup » Blog Archive » SBR Number 3129 April 2007 at 20:32

    [...] completed his postal vote. When all this is paper attack is done, Silver Sprite has developed an environmentally friendly way of managing the unwanted [...]

  8. Great idea, but don't your bricks leave a whole heap of ashes - and don't they smoke a lot?

  9. It doesn't matter what you do with waste, it always ends up in a landfil... At least this way you're delaying the 'ash' and generating heat in the process. There are loads of discussions here, greenhouse gasses produced because of the burning, but you have to choose the lesser of two evils. Landfil or incineration... The higher the temperature of the incineration will reduce the amount of ash and smoke but again it's a trade off... the ash will end up in a landfil... Just my two pence worth.

  10. Burning merrily away… at Silversprite20 May 2007 at 04:35

    [...] previously wrote about the joy of making firebricks, paper mache constructs for lobbing onto the fire in the place of log, coal or peat. One small [...]

  11. If 'twas me I would put the ash onto or dig it into, the garden. Where, no doubt, it would join the tons and tons of free seaweed that Silversprite is putting there, even as we speak.

  12. Production increases… at Silversprite8 June 2007 at 01:00

    [...] source material is stuff such as this, and the end result is this. Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites [...]