Too poor to pay?
Unfortunately, you are all in for a little rant today, reading-on is entirely optional.
Five years ago I made a decision to move house. It might have been a mad decision. We moved several hundred yards, from one side of a housing development to the other, across a busy through-road. The house is slightly smaller than our last, the garden bigger, drier, more private and equipped with the by-now-famous shed, wherein I am bashing the keyboard.
It seemed like a good move at the time and in truth, we don’t really regret it, despite the inflated price tag and the twenty-five thousand euro of Stamp-duty paid. I agreed to buy the house on 16th March 2008. The following day, as is now well-known an Taoiseach (Prime Minister of Ireland) received a phone call during the Saint Patrick’s Day jollies in Washington DC, warning him that the Irish banking system was in danger of imminent collapse. Unfortunately, he did not think fit to tell us his news and this makes my family among the final cohort of Irish people who bought homes at the tailend of Ireland’s housing boom.
Where is this going? I hear you ask.
When we moved our belongings to our new home, I walked back and forth across the through-road three times, pulling after me our wheelie bin, our recycling bin and finally, a wheelie-bin belonging to Kildare County Council, for the use of the local Residents’ Association. Every season, the residents get together, and collect litter, sweep up, maintain our commons and, in general, do what we can to keep our area clean and child-safe.
Five years later, our home is worth half what we paid for it. The couple who bought our old house are worse off again, as they brought no equity with them. Never has it been more important to keep the development clean, welcoming, safe and an attractive area; should the recovery come, we want to meet it with our Sunday-best showing. Which is why a spate of dumping is getting me down.
Three times in two weeks I have trundled out the Residents’ association bin and pulled it up and down the main road through the development. At night slow cars drive our road, back door open, occupants precariously hanging out. Each black sack is pushed from the moving vehicle, landing where it will, sometimes intact, sometimes splitting open. With my gloves and my litter picker and my three year old daughter in tow I gather it and bin it. I have stopped calling the litter warden to collect and check the rubbish: to what avail should he pick through this horrid mess of chewed bones, soiled nappies, broken glass? People are far too clever now to leave identifying waste in their dumped rubbish.
Today is a new low: too mean even to use a black sack, the dumpers have simply pushed a large plastic bag from their vehicle. Too lazy even to tie a knot in it, the refuse is blown, dragged and spread over a quarter of a mile, the tyres of each car grinding it further into the asphalt. Crows, circling, dipping and rising again like a scene from a spaghetti western herald the spillage from afar. It’s beyond my means to deal with this, it requires a man in a high-vis vest and a power-hose and a few warning lights to slow the traffic on this busy through road linking one side of town to the other. It’s definitely not a job for a middle-aged busybody with a three year old child on one hip.
You might tell me that people are “suffering”, that people are “put to the pin of their collar” and that refuse charges are a bridge too far for the suffering poor. In return I can tell you that dumping seems to have little enough to do with poverty. I have lifted enough dumped refuse in ten years-long before the financial crisis- to tell you that it doesn’t seem like poverty to me: Budweiser (not Dutch Gold), vodka, takeaways, Marks and Spencer’s ready meals, the wrappings from plasma screens and laptops. I’ve never had to sweep up potato peelings, or carrot tops.
Poverty doesn’t prevent people from walking to the bottle bank with their recyclables. Poverty doesn’t equate to throwing out half-eaten food, half-drunk liquor, wearable clothing.
Too poor to pay bin charges? I am absolutely certain that many people are, but they are not the same people who are polluting our countryside and homes with their filth.
Too lazy, too mean, too spoiled.
Cheap, dirty fuckers.
Erin’s green isle thanks you for trashing it, do come again.
PS, if you are wandering round Kildare and you see a blonde, beautiful three year old sitting in a buggy singing “Litterbugs, go away. Litterbugs go away” that’s me pushing her. Come over and say Hello.