Spare me that rubbish about your ‘rights’

Filed in Waste News by on June 22, 2009 6 Comments
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What is your definition of 'birthright'?

What is your definition of 'birthright'?

Now here is a man who can speak, erm, eloquently and give voice to the thoughts in my head! In an article by David Mitchell over on the Guardian, I found myself nodding with his words and smirking at the end of the paragraphs. He talks about the recent ‘bin wars’ and shares his vision of an Oxfam advert:

“This is Andrea. Every week, she has to walk three bins all the way down the street, round the corner and into the backyard. It’s either that or people will see her bins. It’s crazy, but you can help.”

I’m honestly not being heartless to the few members of society who may well genuinely find wheelie bins challenging to manoeuvre and store. For those people we need to get back to community spirit and we need to help our neighbours. For example, Mr Green puts our neighbour’s bin out for her each week and if the neighbours on both sides have not taken theirs back in after collection he gets out there and delivers all three back.
But for the rest of us able-bodied folk, Mitchell suggests we just get over ourselves.

I’d love to know what you think of the article. The language shoots from the hip, so if you’re easily offended, I wouldn’t read much further πŸ˜‰

“It’s a strange thing to hear from a man who’s made a fortune designing faddish and weird-looking furniture, but that’s fine – I’d still welcome an anti-drugs quote from Amy Winehouse. Starck describes his new clothes as “non-photogenic” and has designed them to be long-lasting.

As someone who hates fashion, and resents all the money, fun and attention people get out of it, I find this tremendously promising. Starck may just be the right man to make rejection of fashion fashionable. I look forward to an eco-friendly future where everyone wears drab and similar clothes until they wear out, just like I do. Obviously I don’t do it out of environmental conscience, but laziness and the fear that, if I try to demonstrate taste, I’ll be exposed as a twat.

But however puny my motives, I am basically right not to buy expensive yet flimsy new togs all the time. Replacing things that aren’t broken causes a lot of environmental damage. I, for one, am keen to find a way of stopping the planet flooding, boiling, freezing, baking or imploding for some reason to do with leaving things on standby, without having to sacrifice electric light, TV or beer. If everything from London Fashion Week to Claire’s Accessories has to go, I say it’s a price worth paying.

It’s easy for me to say, though. I’m not sacrificing anything. On the contrary, I’ll make a net sartorial gain when everyone else is dragged down to my got-dressed-from-a-skip-in-the-dark level. I don’t derive my sense of individualism from what I wear. Only if those who stand to lose financially or emotionally from a rejection of fashion altruistically adopt Starck’s approach will his remarks amount to anything more than a zeitgeisty rejection of the zeitgeist…

Sacrificing our rights and freedoms, or the use of them, for the greater good is much called for at the moment. There’s pressure to recycle, pay higher taxes, not travel on planes, avoid products manufactured by enslaved children, stop borrowing money we can’t pay back, stop lending money to people who won’t pay it back and abstain from tuna. And psychologically we couldn’t be worse prepared.

For decades, our society has trumpeted liberty and its use, choice, self-expression, global travel and all forms of spending as inalienable rights. But only as the environment and economy teeter are we gradually becoming aware that with the power such liberties give us comes the responsibility to deal with the consequences” …

Read the rest of David Mitchell’s “Spare me that rubbish about your rights” article in the Guardian.

After explaining to Little Miss Green what a birthright was in the following way “What are the thing or things every baby, child and adult born onto this planet should have without question?”, she answered:

  • Love
  • Lots of cuddles from your Mum and Dad
  • Food and drink
  • Warmth
  • Freedom
  • To be able to trust someone
  • For people to be honest with you

What a girl; personally, I think she has it right – but not a mention of weekly bin collections or wheelie bins in sight – how strange!

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (6)

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  1. Ailbhe says:

    The four of us have tow wheelie bins, one for recyclables and one for landfill. They each get emptied every 6 weeks. It *is* too hard to bring them all the way through the house from the back to the front every single week, but once we reduced our waste it became worthwhile.

  2. Poppy says:

    I lurve the picture πŸ˜€

  3. I read that the other day. David Mitchell is great. I was nodding away too πŸ˜€

  4. Mrs Green says:

    @Ailbhe: Hi Ailbhe; you make a great point. If you reduce your waste, then this in turn, means less times to cart the heavy wheelie bin about. I know that our green waste bin can be virtually impossible to move on some occasions; so I appreciate it can be difficult for people. Like you though, we can all rethink our waste and create less of it to take away the strain.

    @Poppy: Rather cute, isn’t it!

    @Almost Mrs Average: Glad you enjoyed the read, Mrs A – nothing like someone who is outspoken and manages to get things across in an easy-to-understand way πŸ˜‰

  5. Sarah says:

    Little Miss Green has it right.

    I’d like to see every child have the “birthright” to shelter, enough to eat, warmth and love. Never mind the nintendo wotsit, tv, weekly bin collections and a new landscape of landfill that is now no longer “fill” but mountains.

    I actually use my green bin less and less because I’m reusing things myself. I stack hedge trimmings to rot down slowly in a corner of the garden, providing a wildlife haven while they do so. I reuse boxes for my business and I shred all paper for pet bedding – the hens love it for nesting material.

    About to tackle the bookshelf behind me that is leaning precariously, wish me luck!

  6. Mrs Green says:

    @Sarah: Loving the reuse ideas with your garden waste, Sarah. I think there is the danger that we become ‘too tidy’ and controlling in our gardens and this is responsible for a lot of the imbalance in nature (along with other things of course)

    I hope the bookshelf declutter goes well! You might unearth some treasures, or, at the very least, some things to sell πŸ™‚

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