Saturday, 18 February 2012

Don't rubbish me!

As I started my car this morning I noticed a man arrive at our bins with his rubbish to dump - large cardboard boxes.  The bins are one of the things that I don't like about living where I live.

There are 28 apartments in my complex and we share six skips - three for general waste and three for recycling. The bins are right at the entry and are very untidy.  People regularly dump rubbish near the bins and sometimes I feel like I live beside a garbage dump.  The bins barely accommodate all the rubbish from 28 households and by the time collection day arrives they are bursting.

Recycling is the other problem.  People put any old thing in the recycling bins, despite the helpful sticker the local Council has provided showing clearly what can go in the bins and what must not be put in the bins.  Plastic bags seem to confuse most people.  They spend time carefully sorting their recyclables and then place in a plastic bag in the bin!  The guide to recycling is published in English and we're a very multicultural area, so maybe it's a language problem.  Then there are the people who make no distinction and just put their rubbish in the bin.  Or beside the bin.  I'll never understand that one.

I also emerged one morning to discover they had been set on fire.  While it was fascinating to see that the plastic of the bins had melted and left a pile of rubbish, it was a revolting mess to have at the doorstep for a few days!

Anyway, back to the man lurking at the bins.  I had to drive right past him on my way out, so I wound down the window of the car and stopped to speak to him.  He was flattening all his cardboard to place in our already overflowing recycling bins.

"Hello!  Do you live here?" I knew he didn't but I gave him my most friendly smile.

"Um, no.  No I don't," he replied looking a bit nervous.

"You're not thinking of dumping your rubbish on your neighbours are you?"

"Um. No, I mean, well, I can't fit it in," he reddened.  He had one of those complexions that blooms guiltily.

"Oh, okay," I said, still friendly.  "Where do you live?"

"Um, what do you mean?"

"Oh I just want to know where you live so I can dump my rubbish at your place.  You wouldn't mind would you? I mean my bins are overflowing with the neighbourhood's rubbish.  Don't know why, but my neighbours seem to think that my home is a garbage dump for them."  I furrowed my brow and shook my head.

"Um, no. Um, what?" He had one of those tongues which becomes tied when feeling guilty.

I waited.

"Could I put this in your bin? Just this once? Please?" He looked like a little boy asking for a lolly or a cake.

"I'm not going to tell you what to do.  You wouldn't have thought of asking if I hadn't stopped to talk to you.  I just ask to be treated fairly and with respect.  You decide.  Bye!"

I drove off.  I could see him standing staring at his rubbish, frozen in time.  At least he was thinking about it. He was scratching his head anyway.

When I arrived home I found the bins so stuffed with his rubbish that they don't close properly.  Guess the carefully crafted guilt trip didn't work.

I've had this conversation with other people who think it's okay to dump their rubbish on someone else's property.  It's amazing how people will justify what they are doing - their bin isn't big enough, it's just this once, they have a lot of rubbish this week.  If you fill your bins you have a couple of choices: store the rubbish until the bins have been emptied; take it to the dump or a recycling centre (yes, you have to pay for this).  Or you could approach a neighbour and have a conversation.  I'm sure that if you asked first instead of just dumping, the answer would be YES!

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