Throwing It All Away

Every Wednesday evening, almost robotically, our various waste bins are placed outside our home for the following morning’s collection. Many moons ago it was all so different. The ‘bin man’ would take away our small dustbin every week and empty the lot into the cart that would be moving slowly down Corby’s Thoroughsale Road. I can see them now carrying the metal containers on their shoulders after lobbing the metal lids onto the grass verge. That’s not all; the bin would be collected from the back of the house and would contain everything that we might wish to throw away. Having said that I think a lot less food was discarded in those days as most foodstuffs were originally bought fresh with most shopping being paid for by cash. Today we have the green bin for garden waste and cardboard, a brown bin for paper and plastic bottles and a black bin for everything else. As a family we have adjusted to the fortnightly collection rather well yet sometimes we just need to see which colour bins the neighbours have put out just to get it right. Recently we took our grandson for a weekend break in a caravan on the east coast: a welcome break for us all. On the Monday after having collected all the rubbish into three neat little piles of recycled waste I found that all of the waste would have to go into one small black bin at the back of the caravan. Having spent some time each week separating our household waste for disposal it annoyed me to find that the whole site operated the same system that I was used to in the sixties: everything in one bin and off to the landfill. It led me to ask myself what was the point in our recycling if everybody else isn’t doing the same? Another thing we now do at home is to make full use of the shredder, primarily because of the identity theft risk. Then I thought why can’t packaging companies use compressed shredded paper like mine instead of so much polystyrene? Why are manufacturers being allowed to use such packaging? It’s a product that can’t be recycled, is not biodegradable, yet ends up in the ground as waste. Some of the product packaging today appears to be excessive in the extreme. For example, unwrapping a mans shirt should be a simple operation but I don’t think it has ever been. I mean, it’s got to be ironed anyway so why all the cardboard, pins, plastic clips, tissue paper and all wrapped in a plastic bag? It’s all very well supermarkets charging for plastic bags or even getting rid of them but, again, what’s the point if just about everything they sell is encased in ‘consumer friendly’ plastic anyway? If the manufactures modified their packaging, consumers modified their visual buying expectation then, perhaps, we would have less to recycle at home.

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