Recycling and the class system.

Recently I’ve had this glossy leaflet shoved through my door to encourage me to recycle more. Way to go.

Instead of just turning up and collecting a couple of bags of things that I no longer need each week, the local authority have categorised my waste by some set of arcane criteria and will pick it up weekly (food waste), fortnightly (aluminium, glass, cardboard, cat litter), according to the phases of the moon (lycanthropic waste, motor oil) or every 78 000 years (depleted plutonium, back issues of the Wiltshire and Gloucestershire Standard).
I’m all for recycling but reading the leaflet did get me thinking about the rights and wrongs of what we do with our waste.
Firstly, the simple way to keep stuff out of landfill would be to stop making so much bloody rubbish in the first place. Why not tax packaging to buggery if it isn’t biodegradeable or recyclable? Buy four apples from Marks and Sparks these days and they’re cradled in a little plastic tray, wrapped in plastic and then put in a plastic bag. That kind of waste of resources ought to be cut off at source.
Secondly, recycling is a lot easier if you’re not short of a few bob. For one thing, the staple foodstuffs of the average council-flat tenant tend to be heavily packaged more than the venison and kale from your local organic farmers’ market. For another, in order to have my waste taken away I’m now going to require approixmately half a dozen categorised dustbins and a further receptacle for the things that I still have to recycle myself.
All very well if you live in a rambling, detached farmhouse with kitchen, larder, pantry, scullery, utility room and walk-in store. Plenty of room for the bins and scope for home composting in your half-acre gardens.
If you’re sharing an ‘affordable’ (ie, tiny, cramped, thin-walled, badly-designed but still penurously expensive) two-bedroom flat with two hyperactive kids on the third floor of a converted methadone clinic then approximately half of your living space is now going to be used to store your waste.
As I may have alluded before, progress towards not bringing back the lifestyle that we all enjoyed before the Industrial Revolution is going to rely on some large-scale, grass-roots change but it’s going to be very difficult to get people to embrace sustainability if for the people who can least afford it, it’s also a monumental pain in the arse.
To be honest, I’d rather just be told that I can leave out one bag a week maximum of non-recyclable waste and do all of my recycling myself and see my Council Tax diminish accordingly. If I’m still going to have to take some of my recycling around the corner, I might as well take it all, I really don’t mind. It would certainly save me having to remember whether it’s glass fortnight or fissionable materials February and I’d actually be taking responsibility for my own waste, which is really the point.
And there’s the real nub of the argument. Recycling schemes are about environmental responsibility. We should be compelled to take our waste around the corner because it will make us realise how much unwanted crap we’re making, shipping, buying and then melting down to make more crap. Maybe when we’re tired of going around the corner every three days because the kitchen can only be accessed over a pile of discarded plastic we’ll stop buying shrink-wrapped babies and blister-packed tubes of blister ointment.
In addition, for once, the well-off would get the worse end of the deal by having to take a trip out to recycle. It would at least be one thing that was made easier for those struggling to get by –  we all know whose houses the recycling centre’s going next to and whose lives are going to be most affected by 25 quid a year off their Council Tax bill.
Anyway, bollocks to everything and grrr…. I’ve got my ‘why are you buying all this shit?’, pre-Christmas cob on.
Happy recycling, everyone.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s