Friday, January 11, 2019
I often pass this street corner while walking Olga in the mornings. It always looks like this -- piled high with trash bags and boxes and various pieces of discarded paraphernalia. There were fax machines here for a while, and hubcaps, and now there are bags of what looks like roofing material.
This is just one of the problem areas in our neighborhood where trash seems to perpetually accumulate. I think some of it comes from nearby businesses and/or the apartment dwellers who live above the shops. They don't appear to have trash bins. Instead, they set their bags out on the sidewalk. The problem is, they don't just set them out on trash collection day. They're out there for days and days at a time.
I know I've complained about our trash collection, or the lack thereof, in the past. I maintain that London, as a whole, doesn't manage solid waste disposal very well. I realize millions of people live here in close quarters, and that's got to be a challenge. But I lived in Manhattan for a decade and I didn't see nearly as much loose trash as I do here.
A local magazine, the Hampstead Village Voice, recently did some articles about the problem. (They headlined that issue of the magazine "Dumpstead" -- you can see its front cover taped to the pole in the top photo. I didn't put it there, I swear.) The contractor responsible for trash collection in the Borough of Camden -- which includes Hampstead -- told the magazine that "Camden's approach is to use less on-street bins as they attract fly-tipping." (Fly-tipping means unauthorized dumping.)
I don't understand that rationale at all. Seems to me like we have fly-tipping now. It's not just businesses and residents lacking their own bins -- there are very few public trash cans, too. In New York there was a can on every street corner. In London, you sometimes have to walk long distances to find one. A lot of people give up, and dump their drink cups and dog poo bags and fast-food wrappers beneath the nearest tree.
It sounds like the borough doesn't want to be responsible for having to empty bins, so they resort to an almost Soviet desire to redefine reality by pretending the trash will simply not appear.
But appear it does. We're all living with it. We wade through it every morning and every evening.
At this time of the year, to make things even more exciting, we have discarded Christmas trees to step around. The council has set up tree-recycling locations throughout the borough, but many people apparently can't be bothered to carry their trees there. Instead they abandon them on the sidewalk. One has been abandoned directly in front of our house, in fact. (Perhaps by our upstairs neighbors?) Dave and I will probably wind up carrying it to the recycling collection point ourselves.
It makes me nuts that people can't dispose of trash more responsibly, and why does the borough make it so difficult? Each problem feeds the other. What we're left with is an omnipresence of filth.