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The collected opinions of an august and aristocratic personage who, despite her body having succumbed to the ravages of time, yet retains the keen intellect, mordant wit and utter want of tact for which she was so universally lauded in her younger days. Being of a generation unequal to the mysterious demands of the computing device, Lady Bracknell relies on the good offices of her Editor for assistance with the technological aspects of her journal.

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Location: Bracknell Towers

Friday, January 04, 2008

Boxes in bins (a post without pictures)

I went up the road last Friday.

I more often go down the road. Down the road leads to Tesco and the library and the Post Office and the doctor and the bus stop for work.

Up the road leads to the stop for the one bus an hour for needles and haircuts. And occasional squirrel-sightings.

Up the road, the pavements are lined with wheelie-bins. (And, no: I didn't take very kindly to the letter from the Council to everyone on the street saying there have been complaints about the fact that the bins are left out on the pavements, and threatening me with a prosecution for fly-tipping. Partly because I don't leave my bin out on the pavement when it's full, and partly because the fact that other people do is a very minor inconvenience indeed in comparison with the fact that they also park their cars right up on the pavements.)

Anyway, the wheelie-bins were so full of rubbish that their lids wouldn't close. This is because the sort of person who ignores the regulations about not storing their bin on the pavement laughs in the face of threats that their rubbish won't be collected if their bin is over-filled. Rules are, apparently, for other people. People who, presumably, are so insignificant that they haven't been granted a Special Dispensation For Important People With Busy Lives.

So I could see what was in the bins without needing to rummage through them. Not that I ever do rummage through other people's bins, you understand. And not only because I couldn't bend that far. No. What I meant was, I had no choice but to see the contents of the bins.

Contents which consisted almost entirely - from what I could gather - of Christmas present wrappings. Brightly-coloured cardboard boxes containing plastic trays in which toy parts had nestled.

Now, you'd think that the parents of children young enough to welcome gifts from Fisher Price would probably quite like the world not to have burned to a cinder by the time said children had reached adulthood.

To which end, the amount of effort required to break said brightly-coloured cardboard boxes down flat and put them into the blue wheelie bin so that they would be taken for recycling might not seem impossibly onerous.

I mean, I can understand why people weren't prepared to drag heavy bags of stuff for recycling to a public collection bin three streets away, but failing to recycle when the council has provided you with your very own wheelie-bin for precisely that purpose just seems to me to be downright perverse.

I hate my new blue wheelie-bin. Separating out my rubbish is difficult and painful and uses spoons I would very much rather be saving for something more enjoyable. But the visible proof of the great quantities of stuff which would otherwise have been heading straight to landfill (without passing Go and without collecting £200) is sufficiently sobering to make me keep on doing it. And, if I can do it, then I'm going to take a lot of convincing that my non-disabled neighbours' excuses for not doing it are persuasive.

Look, I'm no environmental ambassador. I have a great aversion to being preached at. Particularly by that dreadful harpy who keeps turning up on television berating families for playing computer games when they could be huddling together in one room round a guttering candle with a single marshmallow poised, in a triumph of hope over experience, on the end of a toasting fork.

It's not a barrel of laughs being in constant pain and being stuck at home almost all the time, and I'll be damned if I'm going to deny myself the things which make it tolerable, particularly when my carbon footprint is titchy compared to that of anyone who eats meat, or runs a car, or has children, or goes on holiday.

But I'm not completely irresponsible. I think about how I dispose of things. I have never understood how people can just toss things in the bin when they could be of use to someone else. I've seen people throw clothes in the bin. I've even - horror of horrors - seen someone burn books on a bonfire. What happened to caring about the consequences of one's actions? Where did that sense of individual responsibility go?

Just exactly how smug and self-important do you need to be to not only refuse to use your recycling bin, but to leave the things which should have gone into that bin perched right on the tippy top of your this-is-all-going-to-landfill bin in full view of anyone who walks past?

Oh dear. I appear to be turning into my parents.

The Editor


Blogger Mary said...

Ah, wheelie bins, one of the few things I miss since having moved. Important aspects: wheels.

Recycling here is in a red plastic box. I can't lift it and once it has stuff inside it, let alone a whole two weeks' worth of stuff, I can't drag it either. But, if it is on the doorstep or even the driveway, it won't be picked up. Leaving it kerbside at any time other than collection morning is unacceptable.

My recycling has plummeted :(

11:53 am  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

As would mine under the same circumstances.

I absolutely will not risk injuring myself further for the sake of recycling.

Which is why I hadn't been able to do any for years before my blue bin arrived. Out of the, er, blue.

12:16 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am surrounded by people who think they qualify for that particular dispensation, and yet they all (or mostly) recycle. Or they get the servants to do it.

My downstairs neighbor is a nanny who works for extremely wealthy people. They are not clued in to much, drive a massive SUV and have multiple children, but my neighbor is subverting the children, teaching them all about recycling and creating art from trash and such admirable pursuits. And when those measures fail, she simply collects all the recycling from her employers' home and puts it out at our curb in her own recycling bins. (We have a limit on how much our trash cans can weigh and how many we can put out on any given Friday, but we do not have a limit on how much recycling we can put out.)

Such a clever girl, B. Now if she can just come up with some way to let similarly privileged residents of our town know that their special overweening busy-ness does not entitle them to park their massive vehicles in the disabled-designated parking spaces at the grocery store.

Meanwhile, for people who do not have wheels on their bins, how about a hand truck or dolly or other external transport? I live in a town with many elderly people, and I see them leaving their unwheeled bins at the curb in all sorts of wheeled conveyances, including grocery carts (the kind you buy yourself, not the kind at the market) and little red wagons. The trash collectors are not super sensitive about replacing the empties back into the conveyances, but for those who can manage wrangling empty bins back onto such conveyances by themselves, it seems to work out quite well. I know not everyone has enough space to conveniently store such a set-up, and that getting the recycling actually into the bins is sometimes an issue especially where stairs are involved. (Believe me; I know.) Something lightweight that folds up, though, like a dolly or hand truck of the sort commonly used by travelers for luggage, could be just the ticket.

4:12 pm  
Blogger Katie said...

I've even - horror of horrors - seen someone burn books on a bonfire.

Oh my.

Were they struck by lightining?

11:56 pm  
Blogger Lady Bracknell said...

Not as far as I know.

But I was very amused when he was charged with the repair bill for the phone line he had burned through as a result of his not having realised that the heat from one's bonfire has a tendency to rise...

10:35 am  
Anonymous Boogaloo Dude said...

Harrumph. Wheelie bins. Don’t get me started!

Coming from a neighbourhood where these infernal contraptions have but recently been introduced, I am yet to be convinced of the alleged benefits. However, I am all too well aware of the downside. Before wheelie bins were introduced, people simply put their rubbish at the kerbside in black bags which were then stacked by an advance collector into periodic heaps so that the operatives travelling with the vehicle would only need to stop occasionally and fling 20 - 30 bags into the back. Collection was weekly. Now:-

1. Collection of smelly landfill waste has been reduced to fortnightly or less;
2. The intended benefit of reducing the number of black bin-bags going to landfill has not been realised as most householders simply place their bags into the bin and wheel that to the kerbside;
3. The entire operation is much slower, noisier and creates more traffic congestion;
4. The streets and house-fronts are made more unsightly, blighted as they are by grey and green plastic monstrosities every few yards - let's face it, they hardly blend in;
5. My 80+ year-old neighbour is unable to move her bin and is thus dependant on the kindness of others – which she hates;
6. When it has been raining, the act of tipping the bin for wheeling purposes (particularly when I am half-asleep and it’s pitch black) tends to empty several pints of water down my trousers – just what I need before the long drive to work;
7. The small footprint, relative to the wide top and high centre of gravity when full means that the merest puff of wind or small child will knock a bin over once it has left the shelter of the house. So on my drive out of town yesterday, along a long straight road, I counted upwards of 70 bins on their sides in the space of around half a mile, many obstructing the footpath and some in the road (the open lid of one of which I ran over as it was too dangerous to swerve round). Needless to say, rubbish which was not secured into tied bags within these bins was blowing around everywhere;
8. The rise in kerbside bureaucrats has been exponential, with people’s rubbish regularly been left behind but festooned with stickers saying that the bin contained “excess waste” (whatever that may be, bearing in mind that a family of 8 has to manage with the same size bin as that allocated to single occupants), or that waste which has been bagged but not placed in a bin will not be collected, or that the bin was not left for collection in accordance with the rules (i.e. 6 inches from the kerbside with the handle facing outwards – I kid you not!)

To add insult to injury, I have a 5 mile round trip to the nearest cardboard recycling reception point and a 30 mile drive to similar facilities for plastics. So my recycling habits (and opportunities) have changed not one iota from what they were before the bin invasion.

Still, I was amused in the week they were delivered to watch local children staging chariot races with them, each bin having one occupant and two teamsters. Of course, when they tired of this, the bins were simply left where they fell. Now they have all got a bit grubby (the bins that is), the little darlings simply set fire to them instead. Sweet!

Happy New Year!

Grumpy old Dude

9:27 am  
Blogger Supermouse said...

Bolton council gives you:

A black wheelie bin for general rubbish. This is collected weekly.

A burgundy wheelie bin for metal, plastics type 1 and 2 and glass. Collected fortnightly.

A green wheelie bin just for garden waste. Fortnightly.

A sack for paper. Oh how I wish this was another wheelie bin. It's amazing how much card and paper we get through, and that stuff is heavy. I have yet to work out when and how this is collected, but they have a website and a dedicated phone line.

As schemes go, it's not bad, although those wheelie bins do take up a lot of garden.

7:21 am  

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