Scottish Recycling

Today’s lesson will be in Scottish Kerbside (sp) Recycling. We’ve lived in this house about 2 full months, which means we’ve had roughly 4 recycling picks ups.   But really I think we only participated in 2-3. Each week (actually, every other week because garbage and recycling pick up alternate weeks. Every fortnight as we say here.) we put the little plastic bin out there and every time I go to take it back in there is more stuff leftover than the time I collected it before. And this time…there was a blue bag (reusable, official Aberdeenshire recycling tote) left in my black bin. We already had one of those…it’s in our house. We hadn’t filled the black bin so we didn’t see the use for it…

So the passive aggressive recycling man’s actions let us know that we’ve been pissing him off…and I don’t want to make an enemy just yet. It was time to investigate and figure out the proper means of recycling. Because you can’t just throw everything in the bin, of course! That would be too easy. And what I’ve learned about why everyone wants to live in America and why I miss America…is because it’s so damn easy there. Throw everything in the same recycling bin and someone else will sort it out. Packages will be left on your door and 99.9% of the time not get stolen. When you’re crying from dental pain you’ll get a pain pill prescription. When you put things in the dryer, they dry. You can have carry out from any restaurant at 10pm on a Tuesday. Your fridge actually fits a pitcher of water, and a million other things. I can go on….DAMN YOU AMERICA! It’s like Survivor over here! I kid…

Anyway.  What was left in today’s bin: styrofoam box frame from the new Tassimo, OJ carton, Fitbit plastic case, and plastic egg carton.

Upon some online research…I found that the blue bag is for cardboard and paper. Not wallpaper. Not envelopes with clear plastic windows. So the egg carton should have been in there. They did take the broken down boxes in the bin but perhaps because they were easy to grab?

The black bin is for aerosol cans, metal food and drink cans, glass bottles and lids, and plastic bottles. The important thing to note here is no plastic packaging for food or otherwise. That means, no plastic egg container, yogurt pots, butter tubs, light bulbs, jar lids, bottle tops, corks…or CRISP PACKETS. They get their own line item, naturally.

Important lessons learned on a gray, wet day, as I stand in my driveway sorting out soggy items in my bin.

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  1. John Evans


    In the UK each local authority decides on its own policy for garbage collection and recycling (as long as it conforms to government and European Union guidelines). Some local authorities make it easier than others. Mine in London issues three wheeled bins – one for compostable garden rubbish and food waste (except bones), one for most recyclable stuff, including food packaging, and one for everything else that’s not recyclable. I guess it’s the same in the US? In general UK rural authorities seem to be less flexible about what they’ll take for recycling than urban ones; I’m not quite sure why that is, though it may be about money (or lack of it), as things often are.

    It sounds from your last two posts as though you’re having a bad time at the moment. I hope things get better for you soon – including your poorly tooth. Scotland isn’t that bad, honestly. The culture shock will lessen eventually. You might find Nicole Wiltrout’s articles in “Despatches from England” on Anglotopia interesting – she’s from <> She’s from the US and has been living in England for nearly 18 months now. See She also blogs at and recently wrote an article called “The Day Being an Expat Got Easier”

    Oh, and maybe your remark about UK food (“sucks”) really means Scottish food? Or just the food you’ve encountered in your bit of Scotland? There really isn’t such a thing as UK food, as there are big regional variations in cuisine across the whole country. I found this interesting article on the web: “British Food is Bad – Myth or Reality?” Happy reading!

    1. Lauren (Post author)

      Haha- thank you! I really am having a great time…I just like to explore the good and bad, the oddities and the differences for others to see. And the dental options were definitely a bad! I stand by the awful food though and I can’t be convinced otherwise. I find that the UK does things like Indian food fantastic and other specific cultural cooking can be mastered…but the overall ordering of food in the UK always leaves a bad taste in my mouth. There may be great high tea…but options lack heavily, steaks are sad, and I find ordering something that should be a standard sandwich, quiche, burger results in it be covered and smothered in one of the following: a cream or gravy sauce, something pickled, or something oddly tangy. But I swear I am loving it here thus far and am especially fond of the people. And..I even got to run without a raincoat today! So many complaints on Scottish weather and it’s about 30 degrees warmer here then Chicago at the moment!

      1. John Evans

        Oh yes – we like our pickles. They go way back to the days when there were no fridges – to keep food you pickled it or salted it.

        Have you tried any smoked fish yet? (kippers [smoked herrings], smoked haddock, smoked mackerel, and of course smoked salmon). An acquired taste for some, but possibly worth a try.

        One of the hardest things about travelling or living away from your native country can be getting used to different food. Some people love it and others never get used to it. I for one could never get to like most Japanese food, but lots of my colleagues at work love sushi – there are plenty of Japanese restaurants in the City Of London because of all the Japaanese bankers who work there.

        1. Lauren (Post author)

          I have had smoked salmon (always good!) and I think it was smoked mackerel- which was good but quite fishy (not good before the gym).

          You know…it sounds so stupid and trivial- but the food is the hardest part for me! It really shouldn’t- I mean it’s not my last meal, it’s just food. But that’s where my frustrations happen- all around food. Grocery shopping, eating out, or fighting my oven! 🙂 Did have great sushi in London and was very thankful for it. Thanks for the feedback!


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