I admit to being an avid recycler, but sometimes good intentions can go a bit too far. My local council issues every house with a black bin for recycling and a list of approved rubbish: newspapers, milk cartons, plastic bottles etc. So far so good. But our bin for ordinary household waste is green, surely a more suitable colour for the recyclables. Even if you remember which bin to use – not that easy, just ask my wife – you then have to decipher the astrological chart for which day to put it out. The council obviously plan bin collections on some ancient pre-Gregorian calender, probably based on the sun circling the earth. Just when you think you’ve cracked it, a bank holiday throws the whole system out of synch. Never mind, I still get a kick out of doing my bit to save planet earth. Each week I sort through the piles of newsprint our house seems to collect – digital age my arse. I bundle the newspapers separately from the magazines, the broadsheets from the tabloids. I have sleepless nights over forgetting to remove the magazine staples. But all my hard work is worth it.
At least it was until Saturday.
I noticed some men unloading a truck at a semi-derelict farm building close to our rural home. My daughter told me she thought they were moving newspapers and I told her not to be so silly. Still, curiosity got the better of me and I went for a recce – courageously waiting until the truck had departed – and found that my daughter had been on the money. The former farm building has been filled to the rafters with stacks of old newsprint. Tonnes and tonnes of the damned stuff. Much of it dating back five and six years. It’s as if all the paper that I have so meticulously recycled over the years has been returned. Near as dammit on my doorstep.
The hardest thing to bear is the smug look on my wife’s face.