“Click-clack goes the kitchen bin flap and it’s as if some definitive barrier has fallen into place in our minds and we forget — we forget about our rubbish. You may be like me, and have a dedicated recycling bin in your kitchen as well, in which case where you deposit your detritus delivers you either a little positive stroke — see how virtuous I am, carefully discarding this cardboard packaging — or a tiny demerit: perhaps I should have exhaustively washed out that yoghurt pot, so as to avoid it going up in smoke?
“Because that’s the reality of what happens to our waste: the days of extensive landfill are over. The new solution is to recycle as much as possible and incinerate the rest, in the process generating electricity. I wasn’t aware of this before researching a BBC Radio 4 programme on the subject, which is not say that I wasn’t conscious of my own lack of awareness, if you see what I mean.
On the contrary, I’ve always been intrigued, good Freudian that I am, by the nature of the rubbish heap upon which our civilisation is built. For the discoverer of the unconscious, it was the desire to repress the reality of our own organic nature — and together with it, its derelictions, defecations and eventual death — that resulted in the refinements of society. But surely: as it is to the individual, so it is to the collective — if we didn’t forget about that empty yoghurt pot the second we discarded it, we might not be able to get on with our important economic role as consumers, and buy another full one.”
Read the rest of Will’s piece on what happens to our waste, published in the Times (paywall) here.
Will-of-the-Dump is on BBC Radio 4 today at 4pm.