It’s not often I agree with an ‘Indy’ column. But I certainly do agree with this one:
Getting rid of our rubbish, responsibly, is a basic human function. But recent history has seen garbage invading our personal lives to an unprecedented degree.
Preach it, brother!
There was a time, in living memory, when refuse collection was a simple matter. Every house in the street had two dustbins that lived outside the front door or down a side alley. Sometime during the week, you extracted the overflowing black bin-liner from the kitchen rubbish bin, chucked into it redundant copies of the Sunday papers, flowing ashtrays and empty wine bottles, and transferred the whole bulging black sack into the receptacles outside the front door. On Saturday morning, the refuse truck would wheeze up the street and robust youths from the council, wearing stylish medieval grey gauntlets, would heave the bins on their shoulders and transfer the detritus of your home into the grinding maw of the refuse lorry.
But no longer. And John Walsh puts his finger on the problem:
O tempora, O mores. Today’s household rubbish has changed. It’s no longer in a bin, awaiting transfer to a dustbin; it’s all over the house, being recycled. Today’s kitchen resembles a multi- coloured adventure playground of plastic containers, colour-coded in pink, green, blue and black, which keep everyday rubbish carefully divided up, a whole taxonomy of trash.
As Tim Worstall is always saying, there’s a hidden cost to this; that of the householder’s time.
The British population, though never terribly keen on being told what to do, took to this dirigiste environmentalism surprisingly well. They began to fetishise their bins and praise the density and moistness of their compost hillocks, as if they’d turned, overnight, into Tom and Barbara Good from The Good Life.
I never liked Tom or Barbara. I always much preferred Jerry and Margo…
It is easy to see the British public growing weary of being expected to work so hard at keeping its conscience green.
Oh, they are, John, believe me, they are!
We should do more. But the Government is mistaken if it presumes we can be bullied into recycling, composting and dumping, day after day, like environmentally sound hamsters whizzing around on a wheel, if we are to be denied a weekly rubbish collection.
Which is why it was an election promise (Ah! Remember that?) to keep it. Sadly, yet another in the litany of broken promises already lining this government’s waste bins…
Being told, more and more, to manage your own refuse disposal takes the concept of the Big Society to an unacceptably cheeky extreme. Being told by Friends of the Earth that less frequent collections “help to cut the rubbish created in the first place, as people either re-use more of what they’d previously thrown away, or buy less in the first place” only brings us out in a rash of irritation. How are we to “re-use” the Sunday newspapers we threw away two weeks ago? How are we to buy fewer eggs, or bananas, or toothpaste tubes or J-cloths than our lives require, without becoming malnutritious, malodorous and manky?
Indeed! I always love those ‘X amount of food is wasted!’ headlines, usually generated by the fakecharity WRAP producing another report.
You have to dig deep, though, to find out what they consider ‘food’…
We wish the Government every success in pursuing its big dream of a zero-waste economy, and its equally big dream of not being penalised by the EU for falling foul of its recycling laws. But the fact remains that rubbish is for getting rid of, not for keeping close beside you. Virtually every family in the land pays £120 a month in council tax. And we expect more, in return for our money, than seeing a refuse lorry wheeze up our streets only twice a month, and hearing a lot of exhortations from councils to sort out the rubbish ourselves. They tell us it’s good for us. But we know it’s garbage.
We do. We certainly do.
But who’s listening to us?