Three cheers for the Green Blue and Black
When this leaflet came through the door, my first thought was that it was quoting Spike Milligan’s poem ‘Teeth’:
English Teeth, English Teeth!
Shining in the sun
A part of British heritage
Aye, each and every one.
English Teeth, Happy Teeth!
Always having fun
Champing down on bits of fish
And sausages half done.
English Teeth, HEROES’ Teeth!
Here them click! and clack!
Let’s sing a song of praise to them –
Three Cheers for the Brown Grey and Black.
(c) Spike Milligan, 1959
Then I realised it was Greenwich Council’s incredibly complicated new procedure for recycling rubbish.
Once upon a time, in the land of Ago (as a friend would have it), I lived in a flat down the road from here, and Greenwich Council would provide black plastic bags to put in our dustbins every week.
Now we have a green wheelie bin for ordinary rubbish and a blue bin for ‘dry recyclables’.
From next week, we will still have these two bins, but the green one will be for compostable kitchen and garden waste – and we can’t use plastic bags in them. So the stuff will sit in the bin and rot? And they will give us a free ‘kitchen caddy’ to stockpile the stuff before it goes in the bin. Hmm, that’ll be fragrant. They advise us to line the caddy and bin with newspaper, or BUY compostable bags from them at vast expense.
As for any rubbish that doesn’t fall into either category – which they seem to think will be very little: only ‘polystyrene, waxed drink cartons. clothing and shoes, and nappies’ – that will go in a black sack, to be collected fortnightly.
I scoured the small print to discover when the black bags would be delivered. Aha – tucked away in a covering letter: ‘…black bags which you will need to provide yourself’. Excuse me? I have to go out and BUY black plastic bags to comply with your new regime? (I do have a secret weapon – a stash of black bags from my old flat, with the date ‘1991’ printed on them. But they won’t last for ever.)
And what happens if I don’t? Or what happens to those thousands of people who can’t make sense of all the different things they’re supposed to do? Or don’t care? (How do I know what is or isn’t polystyrene? If it’s an Airfix model aeroplane kit, it’s polystyrene. Beyond that, I don’t know. Can I recycle yoghurt pots after all? You always used to tell me I couldn’t, now you don’t say anything about them. If I try and I’m wrong, will I be clapped in jail?) Will the Rubbish Police be on to us for infractions? Dear, oh dear.
My boss (a desperate cynic) says she knows a dustman who swears this is all for show, and everything goes in the same trucks and thence to the same landfill sites. Let’s hope this isn’t true.
My heart sinks.