Our neighbours moved out a few weeks ago. We had one of those peaceful ‘ships-in-the-night’ relationships with them where we just waved and said hello, but didn’t know each other’s names or borrow cups of sugar from each other.
Apparently though, we also had the kind of relationship where they could shove their last awkwardly-sized pieces of rubbish in OUR wheelie bin just minutes before they pissed off to their new house.
This wasn’t the first time they encroached on our bin space. I overlooked the other occasion because it was after a party, and some of their visitors, with skins full of alcohol, shoved about 25 pizza boxes in our recycling bin. I’m not the most confrontational person, so I elected not to point out that their pizza boxes might have squeezed into their own recycling bin if they hadn’t shoved a broken lawn chair in there already! See, I’m nice like that.
When I was a girl we had a metal Oscar-sized rubbish bin at home. Everything that wasn’t composted or re-used went into that garbage bin.
Incinerators were all the rage too, mainly at institutions with lots of paper. At school, our janitor seemed to spend quite a bit of time tending to the incinerator. I imagine all that metho on the stencils would have helped keep things ablaze.
Like I said, we didn’t throw much out when I was a girl. My Nanna even used to wash the few plastic bags she owned and hang them on the line. Re-using things was ingrained in people, after generations of essential thrift.
Our food wasn’t often packaged, but when it was, like when we bought a Streets Heart ice cream on a car trip, well we didn’t have a problem with throwing that useless sticky wrapper right out the car window … until the whole nation was told to ‘Do the Right Thing’ in the early 80s. Or else!
My intention with this post was really to just tell a few stories comparing the past and the present, like I often do. But I’m finding it hard to wrap things up without appearing to sermonise the issue.
Anyway, I’ll just leave you with another story.
During the most recent school holidays we visited a big new park in our area. We went on five different days around the same time – arriving at lunch time and leaving around 4 or 5. On each of those days there were really, really large extended family groups picnicking and barbecuing, but they were different groups each day.
I wasn’t exactly policing their activities, but I couldn’t help notice the varying attitudes they had to the rubbish they produced and how they disposed of it. One of the groups had an elaborate supply of re-usable picnicware which they took home with them when they left. A couple of groups had disposable picnicware which they bagged up and put in the bin.
And one group had disposable EVERYTHING, which they just threw all over the park. Everywhere. I’m not kidding. The park looked like a rubbish dump after they left. It was so bad that I felt like a guilty bystander, just letting it happen. The only things I did to defend against their filthy crusade were 1) a lengthy scowling side-eye at a woman who spat her chewing gum straight out on to the ground, and 2) I gathered up a few of their Styrofoam cups from the ground and handed them over saying something flimsy like “Oh, look, your rubbish is blowing away, here you go”, hoping they would take the hint and pick up the rest of their crap.
I think that might just be the tip of the iceberg, don’t you?
Picture source: Pixabay. No attribution required.