Recycling and making it hard for people to do what we expect of them

Photo by Lara Jameson on

Apparently, Birmingham has the dubious honour of being ranked at the bottom of the recycling table with only 22.5% of waste being recycled.  Having lived here for a month, I’m not surprised.  Our recycling centre (what we used to call the Tip) is closed currently and our recycling is collected fortnightly.  At least we know that it will be collected every two weeks. There is no rhyme and reason as to when the main waste will be collected.  Furthermore, unlike in Sandwell where all recycling was put into the same good sized wheely bin for later sorting, in Birmingham you are required to sort out your paper and cardboard from plastics.  The former (which for many will be the majority of their waste) goes into a small pod in the top of the bin.  So, you aren’t given much space to collect what is likely for many to be the bulk of their recycling. Indeed, to discourage plastics you would expect the Council to be seeking to encourage us to use paper and card more and recycle it more.

So, what the council are essentially doing is discouraging us from using paper and card, instead to prefer plastics with all that entails and generally seeking to make it as hard as possible for us to recycle. Now, perhaps they’ve decided that the current consensus is wrong and that recycling doesn’t help the environment much. In which case, the simple answer is surely to simply provide two big bins for all of our rubbish to go into landfill.[1]

However, not having heard from local politicians that they are taking a maverick approach, then I assume they want us to keep setting aside our paper, plastic, glass and cardboard to be reused. That being so, I would encourage them to think again and instead of putting barriers up to Green activities to make it easier not harder for us to recycle.

I doubt anyone from the Council is reading my blog -but you never know. In the meantime whilst I don’t expect Local Authority bin collection policy and practice to change, I do want to encourage church leaders to think about what we are encouraging members to do.  Are we seeking to encourage them to serve by using their gifts? Are we hoping that they will commit to regular and joyful gathering for praise and teaching? Do we want them to pray together? Are we seeking to encourage generous giving? Do we hope and pray that they’ll be active in evangelism and passionate about mission?

If your answer is yes to all or even some of them then you might want to stop and ask a couple of questions -especially if you are not seeing the desired outcomes.  Are you putting obstacles in the way which make it harder for people to serve, give, go?  Or are you actively working to remove barriers and make it easier for people to serve, give and go?

[1] Note, that despite our environmental awareness, we seem to produce twice the amount of rubbish that we did 40 years ago.

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