Thursday, 12 March 2009

Last Words On The Pile Of Rubbish

After all the activity on the Monday and a promise of action we were looking forward to the tip being shifted. We only had to wait until Friday around lunchtime for a transit van and a sort of JCB thing to arrive, park and the occupants disappear. An hour later they come back in a sort of flatbed with a cage on it and set about the job by carefully removing the sofa from the summit and manhandling the larger objects onto the flatbed. After a while we could hear the little JCB moving about. To be honest, I think it would have been quicker and more environmentally friendly if they had continued with the manhandling approach because the tiny little grabber thing didn't seem to have much impact but possibly we were up against boys and their toys here. There's not a lot you can do about that.
It all went quiet around 4.00pm and I saw a small convoy lead by the transit then the flatbed containing rubbish with a sofa on top followed by the baby JCB and a mystery car we didn't know was there heading out down the lane. It was Friday afternoon and they weren't going to be back until Monday afternoon at the earliest for what seemed to us to be a good half of the pile of rubbish which was still there, albeit a little less bulky since the baby JCB had been playing on it.
As predicted, Monday lunchtime saw the return of the convoy with a few extra bodies then some more fun and games with the baby JCB. Soon it was all cleared up and the last thing to happen was a small army of litter pickers gathering up the loose bits with those grabber stick things and it was all in the cage on the back of the flatbed!
Convoy left at about 3.30pm followed on foot by several of the litter pickers who all went of in different directions when emerging onto the road, still picking up stray odds and ends. I really have to say that our little triangle of common land has never looked so tidy!
So it's all over, the rubbish has gone but it has left a lingering worry. All through the half term holiday when there were kids and dogs all over the tipped rubbish I couldn't get rid of a parallel mental image of the children picking over waste tips trying to make a living in the Third World.
It occurred to me that we are no better off here in the First World with all our advantages when we continue to abuse our environment in the smallest way by dropping litter in the street to the bigger problems of power station emissions and the like. I studied aesthetics and consequently tend to see that aspect first. That's not to say the pile of rubbish wasn't an eyesore, it was. But by its presence it sent out a message that our little neighbourhood is a good place to dump rubbish, and if nobody bothers to say anything then more rubbish is going to arrive. That seems to be how it works globally, it is certainly how it works locally. People loose pride in their environment and the area becomes run down and just plain depressing, and that seems to be when the vandalism starts.
We are lucky here, we have a local council which is doing its best for the environment within the financial restraints blighting everything these days, but they are up against a good deal of apathy from some people who just don't understand that there is a problem, or are refusing to accept that there is a problem.
There's not a lot one can do about it, just continue to recycle, compost, turn of standby lights and such. But when you look out of your window and see the kids coming back from school with their mums and nobody bats an eyelid when the sweetie wrappers and crisp bags are just dropped as they make their way home, well, it just makes your heart sink.
When did we stop caring about each other?
When did we stop trying to see the world from any angle except our own.
When did we get so selfish?

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