Is it just me or is everything rubbish? No, really. Don’t worry – I don’t mean life, I’m not depressed, I mean everything is literally rubbish. It was so easy in the beginning when we had a weekly rubbish collection. Everything in one bin and separated at the other end. It was no thinking, no worry rubbish, most of all it was regular. Now this has all changed.
Suddenly when your loved one looks quizzical and you wonder what they are going to say, it is to ask “is it plastics or general tomorrow?” It has us all thinking about it. In the end we get worried; we can’t remember. We look at the bins to see if they will give us a clue – which one is emptier? But that doesn’t work, does it; they are all bulging at the seams. We wait to see which neighbour is most in the know and puts his bin out first, except now everyone is doing the same thing; every household in the UK is asking the same question and getting frustrated not knowing the answer. You try counting back, “well it was the plastics when we went to see the family, because we desperately needed the general to be taken, and we didn’t get back until after. That was three weeks ago, so tomorrow must be…?!”
So frustrating. We end up looking for our council-issued flyer or spending the next hour online growing more and more bored trying to navigate our way to the council’s website to find the answer.
It seems now that rubbish is taking over our lives. Every one is trying to be good, healthy and think about recycling, but the truth is everywhere we look is rubbish. We have the choice of several bins to put it in, but end up debating. “No, it goes in the plastic bin,” we say. “Ah, yes but we need to take the label off – that comes under paper!”
Why so much thought over rubbish? My kitchen is now full or rubbish against the walls with all the packaging we get through each week. Someone gave us a wine holder for Christmas and it ended up with fruit packaging, empty bottles of juice and empty dog food cans. Daily it is taken out and separated into the right bins, least we get into trouble. Now when we get to the washing up, half of the sink is packaging needing to be cleaned before it goes in the black bin, the blue bin, the grey bin etc etc. Urgh!
And we have to be even more careful don’t we? We can’t put the bin out on the wrong day or we get in trouble. We can’t put the wrong thing in the bin. Best case it gets left, worse case we get a snotty letter. We can’t even put the bin out on the wrong night if say we are going on holiday and don’t want to miss the collection. We also have to find more and more ingenious ways to make everything fit in the limited space. With councils now threatening monthly collections, this is only going to be more of a headache, not to mention the smell!
Despite all this we try to be good, don’t we? We avidly read the council flyer to see what goes where, yet on several occasions I’ve found the collection men throw out items from the relevant bin and leave in the driveway.
When I lived in town this was worse. Being part of a group of houses, each night before a collection I had to lug the bins round the front of the property. Half the time it was cold, wet and dark, and always the rubbish was heavy. I would be out of breath by the end. Many times the next day not only the rubbish had been taken – but my bin as well! One time my general waste bin had the lid run over by the dumpster truck, folded in half and put in the bin! Another time my plastics and cardboard blue bag was nicked and never saw again. “Oh you need to write the house number on it!” my vicar neighbour told me in a superior tone. “I did, ” I tell him. “It had tippex writing taking over the entire lid and still went missing!”
It was only in the last few months before I moved out that the council at last gave me a wheelie bin. Even that meant form filling, rejected case and then rather humorously a knock on the door with a man and a wheelie bin, when I had given up hope.
It’s even worse in Newcastle-Under-Lyme; they have nine of these bins to store! You see them on the news, don’t you? Some normal looking woman dismayed as the whole of her patio space is filled up with all these bins lined up.
So, what do we do? Well, we used to queue up at the tip and get rid of the broken garden furniture, the BBQ that leaned to one side, the black box overflowing with wine bottles from the party we had last week. There was always a queue and someone telling you something went over in this skip not that one. But now the tip is closed two days a week- the most popular ones in my case; Mondays and Fridays. No wonder people have resorted to fly tipping. It’s awful of course; no one wants to see empty bottles and plastic strewn aorund our roads, rivers and parks, but people are desperate, and the rubbish has to go somewhere.
I understand there is a firm you can pay to remove all your rubbish, unsorted, on a weekly basis. No mess, no what-goes-where, just simply taken away. It is a popular option and gathering momentum. To be honest wouldn’t it be better if the councils admited they were no longer taking away our rubbish, gave us a council tax reduction to the appropriate amount and let us use these other firms? Fortnightly collections are not working, monthly will only be ghastly. But it won’t happen will it? Councils enjoy our money but won’t itemise what exactly our money goes on.
Never have we lived in a society when half of the population are washing out our empty dog food tins, the other half throwing crisp packets on the floor and walking away!