Saturday, September 21

Blue bins, bags and bonfires

We now have blue and grey bins to go with the black and the green. Now the blue is a very pleasant blue, admittedly, especially when compared to the slightly over-cooked pea colour of the green bins and the grey slate of the other that always looks dirty and isn't something you want to leave outside the house for any longer than necessary. The new blue bin also takes almost all of what I throw away which before had to be carefully distributed between small green and dark grey boxes. I always had trouble with envelopes because we weren't permitted to put the window part in the same box as the paper part. And I never figured out where phone directories went.

So all seemed comparatively sweetness and light. I have nothing for the green bin at all and my waste should split simply between the blue bin and the small light grey caddy. The caddy is for food waste and is the big brother of a slightly smaller one we can keep indoors. So far, so good. I started using these exciting new places to dump stuff this week and hit the first hurdle a few minutes in. The bags, and I use that term loosely as a bag is usually something that retains its content, for the little caddy that were supplied are made of some natural floppy, rubbery, gooey-feeling stuff that I believe has something to do with corn. You put one in the little caddy and it looks reasonable enough until you go to lift it and whatever it should contain. It droops unnervingly and starts to stretch if you happen to have anything heavier than meringue in it.

If you are lucky you can make it outside to the bigger version before the thing breaks and splatters the food waste all over the floor or driveway. You may even make the bigger caddy but it cracks on entry and that is going to smell pretty foul after a few days so requires gouging out and cleaning and you begin to wonder why you used the bag in the first place.

Before, I had a supermarket plastic bag in a waste bin and that did the trick nicely. Every so often grab it and chuck it in the bin. Job done, no mess, not even when I had the old oil to deal with. But we're not allowed to use those bags. They don't deteriorate quickly enough. Boy, the corn ones certainly do, though!

The other problem is that the old plastic bag would take stuff like cartons where there was food still stuck inside, trays with chunks of burned food round the edges if I'd not kept an eye on the time and a range of combinations of the edible and inedible which were not at all easy to separate. Now it requires a great deal of scraping and negotiation to get the right bits into the new caddy and I have to admit that I am beginning to wonder whether all this effort is really going to make much difference to the planet.

Speaking to neighbours who have vast quantities of waste that make my little bagfuls look pathetic, it would seem that I am not alone in beginning already to avoid the little grey caddy and dump most stuff in plastic bags destined for the big black bin. Chunks of bread, the odd banana skin and things that don't mess it up still make it to the right place but not a great deal more. Having to pay for a new roll of the instantly degradable bags once the free roll runs out will also further the resurgence of black bin content.

The only rubbish that anyone collected from my parents' home was one medium sized metal dustbin. I'm not so sure an occasional bonfire really was that much worse than all the packaging and waste service energy use that we have now.

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