Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

By Steve Hansen

Tiny England queen of recycline


April 25, 2018

Great Britain is one-third the size of Texas, but contains more than twice Texas’ population.

That might explain why Texans think everything should be big, whereas the English think compact, or so it seems based on my recent visit to England.

An English Range Rover, for instance, appears to be about half the size as the U.S. version.

Roads in England are mostly narrow with little to no shoulder. Each lane is wide enough to hold a car or one of England’s big trucks, which are narrower than their U.S. equivalents, but no wider.

I guess this saves on asphalt, but it makes walking along many English roads dangerous and makes cycling in England an extreme sport.

Even in small English villages surrounded by fields of crops, cattle, sheep or horses, homes are small with tiny yards and very well-kept gardens, or duplexes that are usually two stories — better to expand up than out, apparently.

There are large country estate houses, to be sure, but they are relatively few and far between.

English petrol is priced at roughly twice the price of American gasoline, so cars are smaller. They are used as often, but often don’t travel as far as American cars are typically driven.

This sense of limits among the English might also explain their commitment to recycling.

Throughout England, waste is divided between recyclables and non-recyclable trash.

Recycling also applies to buildings. My son and his family live in a cozy apartment in a remodeled barn. That’s a British barn made of brick.

Hot water comes at a premium, too. I think that’s because of high energy costs.

Houses not lived in are generally being remodeled and restored, even if they’ve been around for a century or two.

Space is at a premium, so it gets re-used, not abandoned and left to deteriorate.

In both of my visits to England, I have been surprised at how much land is still devoted to agriculture.

Fields are smaller, but they don’t have to be larger. Grass is greener and more prolific with dependable rainfall. That means cattle production is measured in cows per acre in England rather than hundreds of acres per cow as it is New Mexico and Texas.

Rain and crop rotation keep England’s ancient soils productive.

In America, we think everything is going to last because we have so much in space and resources. In England, they seem to think that everything will last only because they will make it last by using it again and again.

We can live large in the U.S. because we are large, but we could pick up a lesson or two from the Brits.

A little conservation and recycling could help us keep our wide-open spaces wide and open for a very long time to come.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at:




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