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Thursday, 13 June 2013


Where I live, the council is trying to "nudge" me to live a "greener" lifestyle it seems.  I've now got those newfangle rubbish, recycling and food waste bins replete with RFID spy chips. In respect of the spy chips, the council insists that the RFID chips are only going to be used to track down missing or stolen rubbish bins.  Fine. But I know that mission creep will eventually occur, and I suspect that these chips will be used to track how much waste my household generates (the new lorries are fitted with a scale to weigh your bin as it is being lifted up to be emptied), because that's what the manufacturer of the spy chips says the chips are designed for. As soon as I can find a tool or make a tool to remove the chips cleanly, I will do so (removing the spy chips require some kind of 4-pin spanner that doesn't appear to be on sale anywhere), disable them, and screw them back in.

So the recycling bin is large, twice the size of the household waste rubbish bin.  That's the first nudge, right there. It's not exactly subtle.  The council wants me, you, all of us, to recycle more, so they give us a larger recycling bin, and reduce the size of the general household waste bin.   It goes further than that, however. The council gives "helpful" tips on ensuring that you buy products that have packaging that can be recycled. The council also gives tips on reducing your food waste -- because food waste, the literature tells me, is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases and by throwing out your food, you are killing the planet with every uneaten salad leaf you left on your plate.  The council wants us to cook less food, or at least ensure that we eat the food we cook.  I suppose the council is not necessarily concerned with the obesity epidemic, or if it is, then the people responsible for waste management haven't been in contact with Public Health lately.

The second nudge is that our general household waste collection has changed from weekly to fortnightly.  So, the smaller rubbish bin is only collected every other week.  Now, I live in a two-person, three-cat household. We don't generate all that much waste to begin with -- not like some of our neighbours, who live in five or six-person households, who also have these smaller rubbish bins -- but the cats don't care about living a green lifestyle and their litter tray waste can be substantial (they go outside, and two of them refuse to urinate or defecate outside -- damn cats!).  Yet even so, our rubbish bin was already full on the day they came for the recycling collection, in part because of our cats, but also because the household waste bin is too fucking small, and we are still a week away from that bin being collected.  And, oh, by the way, the council says that the dustmen won't pick up your household bin if the lid isn't completely closed -- you are not allowed to overfill it, except for on Christmas, when the council makes an exception (yet, they still say to make sure your gifts come in packaging that can be recycled to reduce your waste).

We pay a shit-load of money in local council tax, and it went up by the maximum percentage allowed this year as well.  I think it's like the third or fourth-highest in this region. I don't recall, to be honest, but the rate of increase this year was the highest of all the other nearby boroughs.  For that money, the only service the council provides that we actually use is ... RUBBISH COLLECTION (notwithstanding any roadworks, pavement repair, or clearing of public footpaths performed by the council -- although both of these things are rarely done anyway -- the same pot-holes in the road from two years ago are still present and damaging countless tyres).  We don't live in council housing. We receive no benefits from local or national governments.  The only thing we ask is that for the high price of paying council tax to ensure that our esteemed council members have fantastic pensions and retirement packages, is ... for dustmen to pick up our rubbish weekly. Seems fair. Right?

But no, the household rubbish collection is now bi-weekly.  And the rubbish bin is half the size of what it should be. We pay more in council tax for a lesser service with spy chips installed to measure/weigh our compliance.*

And that, my friends, is fucking rubbish.

(*The literature also claims that EU legislation is forcing the council to do all of these things, it should be said.)