Those Recycling Blues. And Greens, And Pinks….

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?

6 comments for “Those Recycling Blues. And Greens, And Pinks….

  1. Livewire
    June 26, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    This area has a LibDem council so you get all the gimmicky, preachy stuff, like it or not. It’s like being in Invasion Of The Body Snatchers where you’re one of the last before the clone hatches and replaces you. The swines just get given the usual black bags from here, sweetly smelling after 2 weeks of summer heat, and with a good crop of maggots dropping out of them if they fancy doing a bit of fishing.
    😈 😀

  2. ivan
    June 26, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    Julia, did you read the bit in the Fail today about some councils using communal waste bins? The comments are divided into two camps – the British that say, we don’t want it and those from mainland Europe that say, we’ve been doing that for years with daily, or at the worst twice weekly collections and our taxes per year are what the British pay per month.

    • June 27, 2011 at 5:48 am

      I did. And these people call themselves ‘progressives’?

  3. P. Ondrin
    June 26, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Far from reducing collections, all this recycling has had the opposite effect here.
    When once we had one little Transit with a cage (live a bit off the beaten track see) with one ‘paid for by my excessive council tax’ operative, we now have this:
    Two large (probably 16 tonnes or so) diesel glugging refuse vehicles, each with two operatives (there may be more hidden in the cab) arrive each week. By any calculations a cost increase of at least 4 times the pre-recycling costs.
    This week, and probably not the for the first time, but I was in to see it, a third vehicle, Transit sized this time, arrived. There being no rubbish to remove would deter most council employees from even stopping, let alone leaving their vehicle. Not so this upstanding fellow. He found his way deep into my property and removed one small bag from the bottom of the wheelie bin!
    The public spending cuts are really biting. 🙄

  4. Diamond
    June 26, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    A relative used to work for WRAP – let’s put it this way – most people in the organisation know that what they’re being asked to do is intrusive bollocks (especially their more, erm, “community cohesion” strategies) but they do it anyway. As is the case in most employment situations. They just hope that people are savvy enough to see through it for what it is.

    • June 27, 2011 at 2:24 pm

      And even more than what they do are these ridiculous names – WRAP! As bad as ASH.

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