Modern Life is Rubbish

19 February 2015

Region: London

I am obsessed with rubbish as, IMHO, it tells us an awful lot about an area and its inhabitants. 

And although I didn’t have much photography time today, I did manage to acquire a few more pix for my own rubbish collection.  As usual, the direction of my route was determined by the Bleeding London project and today I needed to be fairly local, so my flaneur activity involved picking up a few stragglers in SW7.


The first find of the tour was an addition to the bicycle album.  There is a distinct shortage of litter bins ins SW7, but the residents are far too well-bred to litter the streets, so they create temporary litter receptacles.  I’ve noticed recently the rise of bicycle baskets filled with discarded newspapers, fag packets, fast-food wrappers and the inevitable coffee cup.  Analysis of these abandoned coffee cups tells us that take-away coffee sales are on the increase, people walk quite a distance to get to their destination (determined by the location of the found cups relative to their possible sources) and that we are seeing an increase in the number of independent coffee-shops – all with their own rather smart branding.  The anonymous, plain white polystyrene cup is definitely a thing of the past.  I don’t ride a bike, but if I did, I’d be livid if I came back to it every evening and found the basket full of debris. 



The last few years have seen an upsurge in the amount of household waste left on street corners.  As I wander the borough, I’m captivated by the way small piles of rubbish grow – once one bag is in situ, it as if that space has been certified an official refuse disposal point.  I also find it mildly entertaining that there is a move towards recycling designer shopping bags as bin bags.  Does this exonerate the litter-bugging guilt on the basis that a Harrods bag is way more attractive than a black bag?  These pop-up rubbish dumps appear to be causing the council a head-ache as we now see signs in all these hot-spots telling us not to dump rubbish.  But the installation of these signs causes another problem – there is a perverse logic to the argument that if you can’t dump it by the sign, you can dump it almost anywhere else. Furthermore, these signs are just ignored.  It may only be a Godiva chocolate bag now, but by this evening, it will be a veritable civic amenity point. 


It appears that it is not just the council that is having problems with the borough’s refuse; I’ve noticed a distinct escalation in the number of private signs and a disturbing tendency towards Americanisms such as “trash” and “garbage”.



Much as I could have spent all day philosophising about litter and taking the pictures to prove it, I did still need to get those stragglers, which were mainly unknown-to-me-until-today mews.  I must have had rubbish on the brain, though, as I’m now noticing that there’s a dustbin in almost every image – well, at least it means the rubbish doesn’t get strewn across the street by the first puff of wind...


Images © Del Barrett ARPS.

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