We’ve talked previously about how easy it can be to carry out home improvements, and arrange skip hire to dispose of the waste. That’s a great way to do things properly, but I’m increasingly getting concerned about the number of times I’ve been seeing hazardous substances put into skips that really shouldn’t be. For example paints should never be put into a skip, as they need to be treated carefully to avoid damaging the environment if they end up in landfill.
Recently there was a much more serious example, though, of a homeowner hiring a skip and filling it with ACMs – asbestos containing materials. Although asbestos was banned in the late nineties, it still exists in many homes around the UK, and as a result that’s gradually being removed at a very slow pace. A lot of people know that the garage roofing used in the sixties and seventies would sometimes be made from asbestos, but it’s also present in other places too. The materials in the skip in question looked like an artexed ceiling that had been removed. Artex has fallen out of favour since the time a few decades back when it was in fashion, as a cheap solution for decorators. The problem is that some artex contains asbestos, so removing it is dangerous unless you know how to safely handle it, so it’s best to leave it to the professionals. You can often find a local contractor, or alternatively use a national company to help.
Getting the job done properly is essential – it’s not just about your health, it’s also about the health of those around you. Someone innocently walking past that skip could inhale harmful dust, and if that becomes lodged in their lungs there’s going to be a significant chance that they develop incurable diseases like lung cancer or asbestosis later in life, usually decades later. Of course, disposing harmful materials in this way is breaking the law, but there’s no penalty the courts can hand out that will make up for causing someone to die prematurely.
That’s an extreme example, and naturally far more serious than dropping a crisp packet. However, we do have a serious problem with people in this country failing to dispose of waste correctly, so we need to change behaviour before we end up living in one big landfill site across the UK.