Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Be Sure Your Bin Will Find You Out

To the left is a photograph of our amazing and magical kitchen bin. Regardless of how much rubbish you put in, it never overflows, at least according to the rest of my family. No matter how full it appears, they claim, if you press your new rubbish in hard enough the bin will miraculously create just enough space to allow you to force the lid back down.

Eventually, though, someone comes along who doesn’t believe in magic. That would be me, the first person in the family to get sick of picking up apple cores, chicken bones and bottle tops from around the bottom of the bin when the magic hasn’t quite worked. While the family is out at school and work I’ll empty the bin into the rubbish can outside, and when they come home at the end of the day – abracadabra! The magic bin’s working again!

What they don’t witness is the sight of a severely compressed plastic bag of kitchen waste being eased from its receptacle in an operation that requires strength, skill and patience, all executed with suspended breath to suppress your sense of smell. The dense sack and its festering contents must then be carried down the back steps and into the much more spacious dustbin outside. Often, something sharp or pointed pokes through the plastic, creating a hole through which a malodorous combination of bacon fat, vegetable oil and several indeterminate liquids can create a slick several yards long. But at least a liquid spillage can be mopped up, usually with a sense of relief that, over the course of a week, nothing has mutated inside there to now burst forth with an evil laugh and announce that it intends to kill its creator, and then, ha ha, take over the world.

Yesterday, though, just before I reached the outside bin, the bag split and spilled its entire contents on the ground, and I was privileged to see a geological depiction of what the family had eaten over the past week, composted in layers with a line of moist ground coffee marking the cut-off point for each daily menu. Plus some other stuff. Then I had the pleasure of scooping it all up.

Despite our best efforts to recycle as much glass, plastic and paper as possible, it’s still alarming to be confronted with all the things you’re throwing out (especially when it makes you gag). There was still plenty of garbage in there that will outlive me by thousands of years. It’s probably why the rest of the family prefers to believe in the myth of the never-emptied bin, rather than risk a mucking-in session with fetid peelings, moldering leftovers and, worst of all, discarded items like the blood-smeared thick plastic packaging that encased the ribs of industrially farmed pigs. Oh, the shame.

I cared enough about all this to buy a book called Garbage Land by Elizabeth Royte, subtitled ‘On The Secret Trail Of Trash.’ Wired magazine calls it “a riveting travelogue punctuated by a scathing indictment of American consumption.” But although I know I ought to read it, I don’t really want to (I hate being indicted). I bought it in the middle of last year in a brief fit of troubled consciousness, but it keeps getting perused and then placed back at the bottom of my reading pile.

Maybe I’m hoping that one day I’ll look at the pile of books and – abracadabra! Garbage Land will have magically disappeared.


No Good Boyo said...

You, me, Pinochet - we all hate indictments.

That chirpy Cockney chappy Coincidence (Synchronicity if you live in Manhattan or St Johns Wood) stuck his cap and stub-end round the door and winked "owright mate?", as BBC Radio 4 had a government report that we goddam limeys throw out £10m (that's $100bn of your new American dollars) worth of food a year.

Not the House of Boyo, mate. If it doesn't go in the weekend soup and Arianrhod actually chucks it up twice, then down the compost heap with it.

Being a Welsh, I never have cooked leftovers. For details, see the work of Lévi Strauss.

Since Mrs Boyo painted my shed Texas Yellow, the compost is my sole blokezone. Sometimes I just sit there, looking at it. It's like a altar, and it demands sacrifice.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Heh! Coincidentally, indeed, last month I built my own composter out of an old pickled cabbage barrel and boiler inslation wadding. Everybody's laughing at me. Bastards. Any sacrifices it receives will be in the form of members of my lovely new extended family.

Stay-At-Home Indie-Pop said...

Coincidences come in threes - right after writing this entry I was reading the New York Times magazine green issue, outlining how easy it is to make a compost heap out of your own kitchen waste. Given that I've just planted a veg and herb garden, that really ought to motivate me. Maybe, one day, there will be another thrilling blog entry telling you all about how I got on...

The Birdwatcher said...

If you want advice on composting then Mrs BW is the man. (Well woman actually but you know what I mean) We also have a wormery. Some people hand out vegetables they have grown or bottles of home made wine, not Mrs BW. She hands out bottles of foul smelling worm juice to unsuspecting neighbours.And we wonder why we have no friends.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Ooh, thanks but no thanks, BW. I react to worms as one might react to, say, forensic pathologists: I appreciate the job they do, but I don't necessarily want to touch them or see them in my garden.

Indie-Pop, one day it's trolleybuses, next it's compost heaps: do you ever feel your rather sophisticated blog is being taken over by "anoraks"?