People in England were getting heated about wheelie bins and recycling.
Quite right too. I got heated enough about litter in Shawlands to blog here about it!
The answer would therefore seem to lie in finding ways to make recycling easier.
However, that is not among the options being considered by local authorities in Britain today. We are to be coerced, persuaded and cajoled to rub against the grain, to go against the organic, natural flow of human nature to be lazy. And because of this choice, complex rules and enforcements will have to be devised and the whole thing is destined to fail.
The whole thing seems to boil down to a single idea: to make every single person responsible for sorting and recycling their own rubbish.
The thinking continues: if the “traditional rubbish” bin is smaller, then it will not need to be collected as frequently as in the days before the recycling — perhaps every two weeks or more, instead of once or twice per week.
But what if people do not recycle very well? The bin will not reduce as much as anticipated, so there is talk about fining people who produce too much rubbish — levying an excess rubbish tax, the more you throw away, the more you pay.
But the thinking is flawed. It targets single parents and young families (who produce more rubbish across the board) compared with yuppie couples and affluent retired folks.
Stealth Tax and Irresponsibility
We each already pay a lot of tax, and Council Tax is supposed to be for refuge collection, averaging the cost across a region and across society. This fee or fine would have be in addition to Council Tax if the intention is to influence or persuade.
What about the producers of the goods we buy — the make the packaging in the first place, we merely discard it.
When you think about it, the problem does not lie with the householder, the consumer or the average person — so why should the solution be his or her responsibility?
I buy food, not containers, not cans, not packaging, I don’t want them; I want the contents. Why should I be held responsible for binning or recycling things over which I have no control?
Culture and Society
Apart from the failure to consider that one-size does not fit all when it comes to bins, and that different people have different amounts of rubbish depending on myriad circumstances, this is moving the goalposts again; we have all grown up in one world, and now we find that we are in quite a different deal altogether. And that is fundamentally unfair.
- It attacks and undermines our culture, our rationality, our trust in our neighbours, our councils, our governments and our society.
What an ugly world it would be too — different coloured wheelie bins everywhere. Bin lorries everywhere all the time, roads being churned up, increased fly-tipping, lockable bins. Distrust. Forgetting to put out a bin on the right day — vermin and ill-health increasing…
The answer is to make things simple. Simplify — reduce the variables, streamline the idea. Let’s start thinking again: we anticipate a landfill problem in the future and so we need to recycle as soon as possible.
Improve The Public Service
We need to invest in local authority refuse collection, sorting and recycling. We figure out the extra cost, and divide it up across the local authority area so that it averages out, and everyone pays the same small extra amount on their Council Tax. If push came to shove, financial re-allocation may be necessary, but I am sure that no-one would mind losing out on something in order to save the planet; everyone appreciates that you can’t have your cake and eat it, and that you have to give up something to get something.
Clear and Simple
The amount of sorting and recycling to be carried out by ordinary people must be reduced to a minimum — and it should be as simple and as clearly understood as possible.
Target the Culprits
Junk mail and packaging should be targeted by new legislation to reduce the problem at source — possibly with packaging colour coded to assist in sorting for recycling. Collections should be regular and frequent enough to maintain health, prevent an increase in vermin and diseases, and keep areas looking good.
- The responsibility for public services has to be with a public body, not the individual.
Things are definitely getting worse!