Carol Andrade column: The agony of separating garbage

Open up a package of air dried Scottish ham, mmm smells wonderful, packaging goes in the dry, wait a minute, better wash it out, god knows whose sentiment might be offended otherwise, now I will have to wait till it is dry before bunging it in to the right bin

Carol AndradeUpdated: Saturday, September 14, 2019, 04:07 PM IST
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So a couple of months ago, feeling most virtuous, we finally started separating our garbage, organic, and everything else. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, you couldn’t be more wrong and I have added at least half an hour to my worry time.

Deciding to separate your garbage is all very well. Wet or organic is food scraps, paper towels, tissues etc. Unfortunately, dry garbage very often isn’t dry at the point of chucking in with the OTHER garbage. Let me give you an example of what my garbage disposal decisions are like and why they can become agony.

There I am, getting breakfast together when the decisions begin to rain down on me. Egg shells wet, tea leaves wet, open a new bag of tea, curse the packagers for giving you a wonderful, ziplock bag that looks indestructible and that you will never use, so tea packaging dry, ayurvedic tablets in blister pack, where does plastic plus aluminum foil go, shove it in dry.

Open up a package of air dried Scottish ham, mmm smells wonderful, packaging goes in the dry, wait a minute, better wash it out, god knows whose sentiment might be offended otherwise, now I will have to wait till it is dry before bunging it in to the right bin. Should I have used soap? Do these jokers realise what they are saying when they urge you to make sure plastic and glass and aluminum is dry before adding it to your dry garbage, and what about the zillions of tiny blister packs and plastic sachets holding trillions of your daily needs? Aren’t they too small for the re-cyclers to bother with? In which case, do we bury them in the wet garbage and hope no-one notices?

Oh no, you don’t, especially since you know a lot of it is being dumped into the sea and that kid in the building did ask you not to rip the tops of your plastic packets off but to ensure they are not separated “because the little fishies swallow them and they die”. Wretched kid has just given me more to worry about.

What about tetrapacks, ha, a whole world of indecisive pain there as you stand over the sink sluicing it free of milk or juice or whatever, and wonder whether it is clean enough to join the other tetrapacks on your window sill, enjoying the sun and getting carefully dry. Afterwards, you slam it flat, thinking bitterly of first world garbage segregators who suggest “clean and dry” for the dry garbage. Do these idiots know what water costs here? And really, you’d like to slam them flatter than the tetrapacks at this point.

Even the wet garbage can give you grief, especially when you think of using spent tea leaves to bolster up your plants. So you carefully collect the damn stuff each time, run water over it, press it dry, add it to the larger heap.

Then you get bored with the whole idea and tip it into the wet garbage at one shot and then next day, when handing it over at the door, the whole thing splits and there are kilos of spent tea leaves over your floor and the face of the nice boy who collects it from you is a study in bewilderment, so much so that I want to sit him down and tell him the whole story, but I don’t. Each day, we dispose of our wet garbage. Each week, we hand over the dry. The first time this happened, I was actually smug. Then I watched in disbelief as aforementioned nice young man put the whole thing together.

My jaw must have dropped open, because he took time to tell me kindly, “Don’t worry, your garbage is so easy to separate, takes me no time at all.”I’m still at it though. Onion peels wet, plastic bags of veggies from vendor, also wet, so wash, dry and put it into dry, blister pack of Maggi soup cube, dry, wonder if they really re-use or re-cycle such teensie weensie packs, what the hell, their problem…. Every time I sneak dry into wet, I hate myself a little more and the rest of the garbage segregating world a lot more.

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