Recycling. I think we can all agree it is a crucial and moral act we must all make some effort to incorporate into our daily lives, however small.
Whether it’s putting your empty cardboard coffee cup into the correct bin at Pret A Manger.
Or donating that Steven Seagal DVD to your local Age Concern, brother, hated work colleague etc instead of just throwing it away.
This is all our duty, right? Apparently I was wrong.
I will admit upfront that I am not exactly a recycling evangelist – I am very aware that I could and should do a whole lot more saving-the-planet-wise.
I do wash all my clothes at 30 degrees. However, I buy most of said clothes from the High Street, and not often from the pricier sustainable organic cotton range…not that organic cotton actually is all that sustainable anyhow…but more on that later.
But I’ve got my basics covered. Paper (no matter how small, scrappy and incredibly irritating when you’re trying to shove into the recycling bin), appropriate plastics, tins and cans all get recycled, and I make sure to donate any of my unwanted stuff.
I’ve done so since childhood and as a result it is ingrained in my psyche. Recycling is in my code.
So I just cannot believe it when I see people throw their newspaper in the bin, or worse, on the floor (aargh littering! Separate issue).
I just can’t believe every other person on earth wouldn’t make the effort to put something in the recycling bin instead of the regular bin. It’s not even an effort now, is it? It is so damn easy to recycle with facilities available in the street, in shops and cafés, at your home – you almost have to go out of your way to not recycle. There really is no excuse.
Which is why my wrath knew no bounds when, last year, the recycling facilities were withdrawn from our apartment building.
Why the hell would they do that?! I hear you ask. Can they even do that? I don’t know. But it happened and, a year later, I am still having to travel three and a half miles (in the car – sorry Earth. It’s too much stuff to carry and I’m not sure travelling with rubbish on the bus is acceptable. Even on the 50) to use the recycling bins in the car park of the Asda supermarket I used to shop in when I actually lived in that area.
The apparent reason for this outrageous removal of services was because the recycling bins were being abused by residents.
Now bear with me here because I can imagine why you’d struggle to understand how and why a recycling bin could be abused, but I’ll try my best to explain.
People - grown men and women - were dumping their normal rubbish in the recycling bins for paper, glass and cans.
I know of other residents who would argue this is actually an improvement on alternative behaviour witnessed, which is to simply leave the rubbish – not always even secured in bags – right there on the floor, just next to the perfectly acceptable bin. Sometimes, not even in the designated bin area at all - just out in the street. A number of times in the hall. One time even in the lift. But I digress.
Unfortunately this confirms for me that I am forced to share my living space actual idiots. Here we have grown adults, who have worked hard enough to be able to afford to buy or rent a city centre flat, who are unable to dispose of their waste in a socially acceptable manner. How can they go about the world with such little pride in themselves and their surroundings? Life shouldn’t have to be like this.
It is, of course, frustrating when others do not share the same standards and vision of a happy social balance as you. I suppose it is one of the common problems of modern life in the city. Sharing your space with ever increasing numbers of people. Increasing numbers of whom are leaving their manners behind when they leave home. You just have to become resigned to it. Accept thy inconsiderate neighbour - otherwise, you may just kill them.
Are plain basic good manners an abnormality now? Not even good manners - just ok ones…
It may just be me getting older, and a city dweller to boot, but I can’t see what hope social responsibility has if a person will spit in the street, leave a used nappy in a public lift, or dump their general waste in a paper recycling bin before they will swallow, or before they will remove their child’s nappy in their own home a matter of feet away. Before they will use a recycling bin.
I hope the cynic in me is wrong. Maybe as soon as people start recycling old-fashioned manners, the rest will follow.
We all have to face up to the fact that we can’t go on living in and with such waste. We can’t get away with it forever. Something has to give. People have to give. Even if we won’t be here to see the impact we make, and it’s our old curtains that are getting taken away by end-of-life recyclers.
And on the subject of fabric, I must take this opportunity to mention The Ecologist Guide to Fashion, one of an amazing series of books WHICH YOU MUST READ. You could be forgiven for considering the fashion world simple and frivolous and a world that plays no impact in your life – but it is a complicated business that affects us all. This book will open your eyes to the real cost of the clothes you buy and wear.