Throwaway culture leaves a bad smell that affects us all

As someone who spent his childhood living a stone’s throw from the landfill site off Leek New Road in Sneyd Green, I know a thing or two about rubbish.

The tip, as we used to call it, is long since gone. An Aldi superstore and a pub now dominate this area and overlook the busy A53.

I can tell you they are landmarks much more pleasing to the eye than mountains of smelly household waste attracting flocks of birds.

If you have ever had cause to visit a landfill site, you will know just how soul-destroying these places are.

They make you ashamed to be human when you see the sheer volume of rubbish we create and then bury beneath the soil.

The statistics regarding landfill sites are eye-watering. The average household in Stoke-on-Trent, for example, throws away 1.1 tonnes of waste each year.

This amounts to around 120,000 tonnes for the whole city.

Just over 25 per cent of that is sent to landfill. Do the maths… It might make you think very hard about what you buy and what you throw away.

Or maybe it won’t.

Because the truth is, most people pay lip service to the idea of being green.

It’s all well and good until their bin is full and then suddenly the thought of helping to save the planet doesn’t seem so appealing.

It’s not that I don’t have sympathy with families in the Staffordshire Moorlands who are fighting to have their weekly bin collections reinstated.

By all means complain if you feel you’re not getting value for money from your council tax.

But, for goodness sake, can we break the habit of a lifetime and try not to think about ourselves just for once?

These fears over rats, maggots and flies are understandable.

But do people honestly believe that council officers would switch to fortnightly collections and ignore the protests if there really was a major risk to public health?

Of course they wouldn’t.

The fact is the Government has been leaning hard on local authorities in recent years to increase their recycling rates. And so it should.

I’m not known for being a tree-hugger but this is something I feel very passionate about.

For too long now we have treated the world we live in like a giant ashtray.

Many people simply have no concept of caring for the environment. They throw litter out of their car windows, fly-tip and create much more household rubbish than they need to.

Why? Because they live for the now and don’t give a monkey’s about anyone or anything outside their selfish existences.

I’ve got a young family. My children have been through the nappies and baby-wipes stage in recent years. So I know how hard it is to cope with fortnightly bin collections.

We have three bins. A green one for household waste, a grey one for recycled materials and a brown one for garden refuse.

And we cope.

Yes, we have the luxury of a car (like most families these days) and make occasional trips to the recycling centre with bags of rubbish.

But even if we didn’t, I would make sure we coped with our fortnightly bin collections without the hue and cry that’s gone up in the Moorlands.

I often think of my grandparents and what their lives were like 60-odd years ago during and after the war years.

They were a generation of copers – make-do and mend people who had little to waste and lived, by our standards, fairly simple lives.

We could learn a lot from them.

After all, we are only being asked to think carefully about what we put in our bins.
Heaven help us if they ever brought back rationing.


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