Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

The Lighter Side of Life

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

The Lighter Side of Life

Article excerpt

'Twas the week after Christmas, and our bin was all crammed,

With prawn shells a' ponging, and leftover ham,

The recycling bin was full of tamped down cardboard,

So on the night before bin day, I snuck our rubbish next door.

With sincerest apologies to Clement Clark Moore.

AS I struggled up our steep driveway with the wheelie bins, I pondered how a modern family of five can create so much rubbish in the space of a week. Depositing the bins on the footpath, I checked myself for possible rupture, then had a bit of a paw through our rubbish. Much of it consisted of many tonnes of packaging, plastic, paper and a light sprinkling of beer cans. A quick check of my neighbours' bins revealed much the same. The contents of our combined bins contained enough material to supply the building needs of a small shanty town.

As a kid, there were five of us living in a tiny three bedroom house and we used to get by quite easily with two small, galvanised bins. But then, not everything went into the bins. Meat scraps went to the dog, cat or budgie. Fruit and veg scraps went to the chooks, and a fair bit of rubbish went into the incinerator. Nearly every household had a rusty 44 gallon drum sitting in the far corner of the backyard, which also doubled as a crab cooker, and the burning of our household rubbish was one of my happiest childhood chores. Just before sunset every afternoon, the skies over Gladstone resembled a scene reminiscent of London during the Industrial Revolution, with plumes of black smoke floating heavenward as my brother and I eagerly did our bit to widen the hole in the ozone layer.

Being the eldest, I got to hold the matches and light the fire, while my brother piled on the rubbish. Sometimes we'd experiment with different flammable materials to see what would happen. …

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