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Recycling

This article was written by Simon Gear.

Who’s got time to recycle?  I mean, look at my life.  I’m schlepping off before dawn to provide a report that no one believes on a TV channel that nobody watches.  Then it’s a rush back home to clean up dog poo, make the wife tea, explain to my daughter that she can’t have chocolate for breakfast and explain to my son how income tax works.

I’ve got twenty minutes to get everyone into clothes and out the front door and today is garbage collection day.  So in amongst teeth brushing quality assurance and health and safety inspections of lunch boxes, I’ve also got to whip around the house emptying all the waste paper baskets into the outside bins, and then lugging those big black behemoths out onto the kerb.

In that mad rush, am I carefully piling the office paper to one side?  Am I rinsing and sorting jam jars by glass colour?  Am I squinting at the invisible markings on the underneath of coke bottles to try and figure out the arcane PET ranking system of plastic recyclability?  Hell no.  I’m trying to get to work on time.  The planet is just going to have to look after itself for today.

Green changes that require a lot of bending, or that are difficult to police, aren’t going to happen. Which is why you still drive to work.  Deep down, you know that the freeway wouldn’t be as clogged if you took the extra time to cycle in, or take the bus.  You’d be healthier.  Your carbon footprint would dwindle to zero.  You could smugly look down your nose at the other commuters in the secure knowledge that you’re just better than they are. But then you remember what a pain it was waiting for The Bus That Never Came all those years ago at varsity.

A couple of factors make people more willing to change.  Price is a biggie.  Watch how much more attractive the Bus looks when petrol is at R12 and they’ve installed a toll road in your driveway. Technology is another.  Once they speed up those cute little Segway scooters, and just generally make them more dangerous and less dorky,  the morning commuter crowd will be flocking to them in droves.  But the biggest driver of societal change is peer pressure . Remember the furore around smoking in pubs?  Or the office? Or aeroplanes?  People sounded ready to die for that right.  Now you’d be taking your life in your hands by lighting up within a nautical mile of another human being.

Similar things are going to happen with recycling and water saving and electricity conservation.  Wait until you are the only person on your street left with one black bin instead of an array of colourful little bags.  You’ll feel only too happy to join the revolution, and you’ll feel surprisingly chuffed to be a part of it too.  And if it means that I need to get a little better organised in the morning, well maybe that’s not such a bad thing either.



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