Why Recycling is a Man’s World
Guest blog by David Evans
I’m sat behind a computer for most of the working week in my job as a freelance marketing consultant. But as well as hunter-gathering email and documents, I occasionally get the opportunity really embrace what it is to be a man.
Men are doing more housework than ever before; more cleaning, more cooking, more ironing, more chores. It is well documented that many believe this state of household affairs is in danger of having an emasculating effect on generations of men. We try to grow beards to compensate, we try to do everything we can to stem the tide.
Many men I know ‘own’ the weekly food shop, using their genetically superior height and upper body strength to control recalcitrant trolleys, gather provisions from lofty shelves and lug heavy groceries to the car and back; convincing themselves that this is toil on a par with coal mining, steel working or bear wrestling.
In my house – as alpha (and only) male - I ‘own’ the bin duties. It is a tremendously responsible job, fraught with risk. Not a day goes by when I’m not issuing rebukes and reminders should toilet roll tubes fail to go into the recycling bin or when errant scraps of greaseproof paper show up in the compost caddy.
For several years I have been fighting a pitched battle with my in-laws whose insistence on putting cellophane wrapping into the recycling bin (and my frustration and having to take it out again) has led to me being excommunicated from their side of the family. I have learned to control my bin rage, but sadly they have still not learned which bin to put cellophane wrapping into.
Thank goodness that being in charge of the bins (or as we call it in my house: ‘bin detail’) is an extremely masculine domain. I empty, I collect, I restock with new bags, and I get replacement bags from the leisure centre… It’s like 10,000BC all over again. I’m not ashamed to admit that it’s tough. I know it’s down to me to be Mr Bins because it would pain me to drive my wife and two daughters’ sensitivities into the realm of pongs, slop, gunge and crud. So the buck stops here, in my little section of the garden patio where black wheelie, green wheelie and baby brown reside.
But these efforts are thrown into stark relief each Thursday. That’s because Thursday is the day when the dustmen cometh. With cheerful efficiency, effortless strength and pinpoint accuracy with a 25 tonne refuse cart, the dustmen remind us other men what it’s like to do a real day’s work. While the best I can do is clumsily weave my black wheelie (green wheelie on alternate fortnights, except during the summer months) up the garden path and onto the curb, the barons of bin-day put me to shame by scooping them up two-abreast like streaks of yellow lighting; disappearing again in the flash of a high-visibility tabard. Panache? These ‘real men’ have it in spades. They even have time to wave to the children as they purposefully trundle by, on their way to pick up the next load.
Of course women are just as good recyclers and bin-monitors as us men; if not better in fact. All joking aside, I don’t buy the nonsense that says women can’t or shouldn’t get up to their elbows in rubbish and reap this rare downside of gender equality.
My message isn’t that you don’t do it, it’s that – selfishly - we don’t want you to. Give us our dignity girls; it’s a responsibility we’re willing to bear.
Please don’t take the bins out…
David Evans is a blogger and marketing consultant based in Pontprennau, Cardiff. Read more of his blog posts at www.thecontentspage.com