Talking trash

Rare news item: A House of Commons committee has said something eminently sensible The committee was looking at plans to introduce fortnightly rubbish collections everywhere, as well as to penalise people who produce rubbish and to reward recycling.

The Committee came out against these ideas as likely to encourage fly-tipping, increase the rat population, potentially spread diseases and so on.

The Department for the Environment said it was “disappointed that, on financial incentives, the committee has not recognised the need to try out new and innovative ways of encouraging sustainable waste behaviour”.

The solutions to the problem of waste that the Department of the Environment were favouring seem pretty poor. Above all, they impact on the consuming household rather than on the producer or distributor. For instance, triple-wrapped foods produce mountains of plastic wrapping that have to be dealt with. It’s not like we have a choice about accepting the packaging when we buy things.

The DOE’s solutions come down to cutting landfill by slowing down the collection of trash and charging people, if they can’t dispose of their trash themselves by composting or taking it to the recycling centre.

But people who live in cities and, especially, in flats don’t usually have a capacity to compost food. (A pile of rank-smelling slug-infested mulch in my yard attests to the limited value of home composting on concrete, without garden waste to bulk up the vegetable peelings or garden tools to turn the bugger when its done.)

The local recycling schedule is way beyond my comprehension. There’s a calendar with every second Wednesday or something for paper and alternative every second day x for other things. Except for weeks with bank holidays. And the week after the bank holiday week. And months with an R in them, when there are collections of magnetic materials on days with a T in them if there is a new moon.. or something like that.

How do I know? I lost the calendar within a month, of course. Ended up putting newspapers in plastic bin for other recyclables instead of green plastic sack, as they failed to replace a plastic sack one week. Now, the recycling vans studiously ignore the papers altogether, as they are in the tin bin. As the paper has filled the bin I can’t put any tins or whatever in it, either.

In any case, you need a car to take glas sto teh bottle bank or stuff like old TVs to the recycling centre. You need a van to take furniture. I’d be amazed if many people’s trips to recycling centres save the carbon cost of taking stuff there.

Basically, penalising people for not driving to the recycling centre and not composting their waste is taxing people who haven’t got gardens or vehicles. I.e. taxing the poor. Yet another solution to a social problem where taxing the poor more is the preferred option….. Wow, this lends a charming medieval aspect to the whole procedure.

And what about idleness? I am pretty slack. I’m out all day. I get in at 8 most nights. I eat, sleep and use the PC. I only clean my own house on special occasions. (And then in a cursory manner.) I wash the dishes when I’ve run out of clean things to eat off. I genuinely can’t be arsed sorting and washing plastic bags and cardboard and tins and bottles.

I know I am at the far end of inept in these things but I don’t believe I’m unique. And I haven’t got much to dispose of. No meat, no nappies, not much in the way of packaging.

Extra unpaid recycling work is a burden that I am not too keen to take up, unless someone can prove to me that there will be some serious action to discourage consumption and to cut packaging.

This reminds me of the best natural recycling top tip I’ve ever heard:

A former workmate used to live in a van. He cleaned his dishes and pans and cutlery by leaving them out overnight for the slugs. No carbon footprint đŸ™‚ No water, no heating, no detergents, no waste.

(Not for everyone, sadly. And definitely not for me……..)