A rubbish post

I’ve got conflicting emotions about this story.

On one hand the fine seems a little petty, and out of proportion. But on the other hand the man lives in a house with a reasonable sized garden, and has been warned- several times. It seems he doesn’t want to think about his rubbish beyon making sure it goes in the bin.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask people to think about what waste they produce when they buy their food, to be honest. Am I being too Marie Antionnette here? I don’t think so. In times past we would be creative with our food. We would eat everything on our plate because it would be rude not to, and we would save and reheat the left overs. We’d be creative with our cooking. Now we just throw out anything that’s 5 seconds past the useby date, and don’t do anything to avoid it.

It’s true our supermarket culture sells a lot of over packaged goods. Recently a columnist tried to live a plastic-free lifestyl. But there are alternatives- even in the supermarket. Meat can be bought in a simple plastic bag with a sticker. You can buy some of your veg loose and despite having a plastic window, a mushroom bag takes up less room in the rubbish to a box.

We have a very good stystem in our street. We have a fortnightly recycling collection, with which you can recycle almost everything reclcylable but only 1 in 10 houses in our street use it. It seems too much effort and something needs to be done to snap people out of their complacency.

Yes there are circumstances where fortnightly collection won’t work, in high rise blocks in inner cities you have no storage space for example. But because a system doesn’t work in one area doesn’t mean it is universally useless. In some areas food waste is recycled weekly- putting the pressure on people to think about how much of everything else they use without causing a health hazard.

In short the man should have been fined. About £30 would have been sensible.



  1. Tristan

    Its outrageous that it should be a criminal offense.We throw away food because we are prosperous and food prices have dropped massively. We have a plentiful supply of food, we (thankfully) don’t need to worry about things like that.Food is not limited to a fixed amount, shortages are not due to us having ‘more than our fair share’.As for packaging – it helps preserve food. In countries where they use less packaging you’ll find more food is thrown away being bad (well, except where there’s a shortage of food).As for people not recycling – what’s in it for them? Its expensive for us to recycle, it takes valuable time for no reward, except perhaps a feeling of having done good (or soon the reward of not having a criminal record it seems).I see no reason that rubbish collection cannot be privatised (that is government collection stopped and the charges removed from taxation) and people get to choose who collects their rubbish – this works well in parts of the US.You can then have an explicit, agreed upon contract limiting the amount that will be taken for the charge, any extra will cost more.If recycling is economically viable* (as is certainly the case with most metals, and possibly paper and other things) then these companies can pay you to spend your time sorting out the rubbish for them, or do it themselves.* unfortunately, this not being a free market, the viability is distorted through regulation and taxation above the cost of pollution.

  2. Giacomo

    Indeed Simon. While I agree with you I can see how people could sensibly disagree. Tristran, though… I mean he’s just so bizarely dogmatic it takes your breath away.There’s no real difference in the private utopia he advocates and the status quo except the level of the excess chagre which you already addessed quite fairly. And Tristran, get your facts straight, the bloke wasn’t prosecuted for overfilling his bin, but for non-payment of fines.

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