Middle-class problems: Recycling
By Nicholas Barber
Recycling? A problem? Not at all. True, we may tut at the extra bin lorries clogging up our streets, and the brightly coloured Tardises cluttering our pavements. True, it's perplexing that an item which can be recycled in one county is mysteriously unrecyclable in the county next door.
And true, it does sometimes seem as if we spend half our lives peering at the small print to check if a particular bit of packaging makes the grade, and then scowling at the coy little evasion, "Not Currently Recycled", which is presumably there for the benefit of any time travellers who fancy doing their recycling in a different century.
There's also the bigger picture to get anxious about: the head-spinning equations explaining how much energy is expended on the recycling process itself, and the articles claiming that our carefully separated plastics are all shipped off to China in fish-slaughtering supertankers, where they're picked over by small children wearing rags.
So, yes, recycling can feel as if it's a middle-class problem. But think of everything it offers us.
We worry about its efficacy, but we worry even more about what would happen if we didn't participate. We have a hunch that there's some third-world exploitation involved, yet we're furiously self-righteous if we hear about anyone who doesn't bother to do it themselves. And, let's be honest, we get a jolt of smugness whenever we put our empty wine bottles in bin B rather than bin A.
So what are we complaining about? Frankly, recycling is the ultimate middle-class pastime.
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