You should all know by know that I’m from Denmark. Scandinavians are well known for being extremely well indoctrinated by local environmental friendly organizations, often sponsored by the authorities. We recycle everything, from a tea-bag to the leftovers of the chicken roast. Glasses and cans are washed before placed in a clear box, papers is stacked and kitchen waste thrown on the compost. Surprisingly, we still have indoor toilets to do nr. 1 and nr. 2 inside – for now – but that’s until some mad scientist states that we can use our feces for feeding the soil!
Ever since I was a kid, I was were told to recycle. So, this is obviously something that is deeply rooted in my system. You can imagine how it must have felt to move to Ireland, a country for whom recycling is just as foreign as visiting Svalbard. In the city centre, you have more flying plastic bags than pigeons, and everybody seem to believe that trash-bins are some weird art, placed around town to promote Dublin Council. You can’t walk more than 5 meters without getting stuck in chewing gum.
We try to recycle as much as we can in our household; recyclable stuff in the green bin and everything else in the grey bin – simple. Bottles, well they of course have to be put in bottle containers that are placed strategically nearby the local off-license store.
I normally visit the bottle container once every month, as we don’t drink much. I have all the bottles in cardboard boxes or bags. Before heading off, I placed the bottles in the boot (in a box) and drove off towards my recycle target.
At the bottle station, I placed the green bottles in the green container, brow in the brown container, etc. You get the point. When the cardboard box was empty, I folded it and placed it next to all the other cardboard boxes – between the containers. There are NO waste bin for boxes in the vicinity for some reason. After my green duties had been completed I went home.
Months went by and fall came. The leaves were falling off the trees colouring the ground in shades of brown and yellow. All of a sudden, we received a letter from the council. It was a litter fine!! “WHAT THE HELL!” was my first comment, fairly loud, then followed by hysterical laughter. How could that be?
So, my dear wife called the council and they informed her that I had been caught in the act. They actually had me on CCTV camera. “But where was this offense done?” So, she got the hard evidence emailed to her. Still pictures of me placing the folded cardboard box between the bottle containers.
I was devastated. I’ve always placed my trash in the allocated bins, except the odd cigarette bud, and recycled my garbage. Now this. How do I explain this to my parents? They will cut me out of their will and and will not get their paper-shredder! A depression was starting to press my shoulders. I had to take matters into my own hands, so I called the council.
Again, using all their customer service skills like “tough!”, “nothing we can do”, “your fault”, I didn’t stand a chance. Then I played my triumph card, informing them that they had failed to install waste bins near the containers for the trash. But I hadn’t calculated with their brilliant defensive answer “but that would just mean we would have to empty the waste bin weekly, we don’t have time for that, and we have to cut costs somewhere”. Man, these guys were pro’s.
I unwillingly accepted the fine and paid €150 to the local council. Morale of the story: I no longer use the glass containers and throw everything in the grey like everybody else!