Monday, 30 May 2011

Recycling rant.

As you may have worked out for yourself by now, I live in a flat (hopefully only for a couple more months or so). Now a few years ago I asked if I could have a recycling box, because although all the houses on our road have them, my flats didn't. I was told in a very curt letter that the policy of Croydon Council was that buildings with more than 4 flats do not get recycling boxes. This flew me into a bit of a rage, because I couldn't quite believe that the council were making this big deal about supporting recycling, but were actually missing out one of the largest parts of our community, making their whole policy a sham. Anyway, a few angry words later and cut on a year or so. I was eventually told that my flats would be getting, rather than the small green boxes, a large wheely bin type affair for recycling that could take glass, cardboard, plastic bottles, tins etc. All well and good and I felt that maybe (just maybe) I had helped this along with my complaining. So for the last 2 years I have been happily recycling my stuff, well done the council.

Anyway, as to my despair it is not actually this about which I am despairing, after all, the council finally gave me what I wanted. No, I included this purely as background to the main event:

My flat shares a building with about 12 more flats and we all use these bins, so why is it, do you suppose, that other people in the building can't even be bothered to recycle anything even with the facility in front of their noses? Obviously, I can't speak for everyone in the building, but the ordinary bins (which I am proud to say, I hardly ever have to use) are always full of cardboard, cans, drink bottles etc. Is there so little care about it that people don't even think about it once? I suppose I shouldn't necessarily be surprised as some of the residents here can't even be bothered to lift the lid of the bin and just chuck bags into the approximate area. So yes, I despair of my fellow human being. It is this lack of care, lack of awareness and pure and simple old fashioned laziness that causes landfills, causes nothing to change. If we can't get people to change just a simple thing like this when it is put in front of their nose, then what will make them sit up and listen? But are these the same people who are leaving all their lights burning all night? Heating their house but opening their windows when they are hot? Buying mobile phones to throw them in the (non-recycling) bin when the next one takes their fancy?

Perhaps all we can actually do is quietly go about doing what we are doing to change things in our own small, individual way and if there are enough of us, then perhaps we can make a difference.


  1. People without a sense of propper belonging, people that do not feel part of a community(and it happens to many folk in the big towns and cities), folk without hope for the future, people that do not feel pride about the area they live in will never feel compelled to care
    for their surroundings. Those are the people that you see dumping their rubbish next to bins that were specifically provided for recycling. It`sa sign of the times and a cultural neglect of people that live in the city where housing is expensive and their budgets are meager. Caring sadly often goes out the window. I understand your frustration but have no true solution to offer. Unfortunately, aproaching such individuals to confront them about their doings could easily get you into a physical confrontation you might be better off to avoid. I every person could just care a little this world could be a fantastic place for everyone. We can`t make them care. They have to find it in themselves.
    I care and I recycle every day. It needs to become a way of life, not seen to be something that government dictates to the masses. It also depends entirely on the way you have grown up and have been educated. If you had caring folk as role models you are far more likely to follow in their footsteps, don`t you think? By the time it comes to adulthood it`s often too late to re-educate some people. All we can hope for is that our example will stike a cord in someone elses hearts and minds, eventually. Keep recycling and keep your spirits up. Every little bit helps.

  2. You are right in what you say. The problem is an awful lot worse in the city I think, not just with recycling, but with rubbish disposal in general. Many people take little pride in the front of their houses and happily dump stuff in their gardens for months, but friends I have living in smaller towns don't notice the problem so much. I often see adults throwing litter on the ground in this area and others in the city suburbs and in many cases they are people with children. Well what hope is there, when that is the example being set.
    Thank you, as ever, for your comments Sarina.

  3. Hi Dan:) Just popped over from Sarina's blog, which I love♥ Great comment by Sarina. Setting an example as you say is the key, sadly many parents are lacking in this respect. On recent visits back to the North I was very sad to see so much litter and so many people not taking pride in their homes:( How exciting on your move back North♥ Good luck selling your flat, fingers crossed you sell it soon, then your dream can begin:) Linda, Gold Coast, Australia

  4. There is an estate near me here in London which is a housing corporation estate for out of work and low income people on benefits who need help. Now I am all for helping people in need and think that this is all a good thing. But the thing that really gets to me is that a lot of these people are out of work and yet the council employ gardeners to keep the area looking nice. The gardeners even do these peoples front gardens for them. As a result the place looks really lovely which is great, but I can't help wondering if, while the gardeners are busy doing these gardens for free, the residents are all inside watching TV? Perhaps, on the flip side of the coin, this at least teaches the residents to have some pride in keeping where they live clean.
    Anyway, I'm going to check out your blog now Linda. Thanks for visiting.

  5. Hi Dan,
    Just found your blog from a comment you left over at Damm The Broccoli. I am a fellow London resident (though only since last year), and I can totally sympathise with the anger and frustration caused by non-recycling neighbours! Although on the flip side I have to say, it may be worse here but it's definitely not *only* a problem here. I was in Oxfordshire before hand, and still there are some people who just won't take advantage of doorstep recycling...

  6. As a very placid person, recycling is one of the few things that makes my blood boil. I get so tired of hearing people say they don't recycle because 'not everyone does it so what difference would one person make', 'can't be bothered' or 'it's too complicated' And this is in a place where the council provide 5 different bins - normal black bin, green bin for garden waste, red bin for cardboard and paper, blue bins for glass and cans, and a brown bin for cooked food. It's not rocket science people. Make a start and it will become a habit. And one more person can make a difference.
    Start taking care of this planet.Remember, we are not doing it just for us but for our children, grandchildren and generations to come.

  7. I agree Debbie, it is pure laziness. I also feel very strongly about firms and in particular supermarkets who are getting away with producing ridiculous amount of unnecessary packaging leaving all the emphasis to lie with the consumer to make the right choices. Government should be clamping down on where the waste is being produced at source.