I spent the morning on site today meeting the team, talking rubbish and talking some photos.
We had a good chat in the office about rubbish: the sorting categories and value of rubbish. Apparently there’s no money (for them) in glass which surprised me, whereas metal (unsurprisingly) and cardboard are the most value.
Materials are either worth something or they have to pay to have it taken away to be processed. Glass is cost neutral. The glass bins are clear, brown and green. Someone had left a blue gin bottle by the green bins in an uncertain guess. Blue glass should go in the clear bin apparently.
We discusssed people’s perceptions of the centre and that calling it a tip is irksome. “People come and literally tip stuff in the skips without bothering to check it’s the right skip sometimes.” The media play a big role in the perception of the recycling services and do the team no favours in the public perception and negative attitudes. We also talked about Brexit and how that might affect rubbish.
We talked about the site users and I loved that they have ‘regulars’ that stay for a chat.
I chatted to one person who was getting rid of some paint for a relative. He had just split with his fiancé who had moved out and he was clearing out the house. He’ll redecorate now for a fresh start. Split paint / tainted paint.
I went into the Revive charity shop on site and had a nosey around. It’s a treasure trove in there and the juxtaposition of objects is brilliant. There seems to be a high turn over of copulating animal salt and pepper figurines.
I had a good chat with the staff in there too. One of the team told me there are three women in total across all the Calderdale sites and some the older generation of the public have told her this is no place for a woman, and she’s too glamorous to be here. I would actually love her job, although apparently it’s freezing in winter. Another one of the team told me that the public often say in summer things like, “We’re paying your wages to stand around in the sun!” which they find ridiculous because they’re not just standing around and what about the other half of the year – been paid the ‘stand around in the freezing cold’?
We had a really good about consumer society and throwaway culture: how working here has been a real eye opener to what people throw away and why. House clearances and getting rid of items after a death or break up is common and people just want rid. Then there’s the built in obsolescence and continual upgrading to the almost-identical next product. How it’s changed from the years when things were built to last and passed down through generations.
Another guy was telling me about having a washing machine for years and years: When they redid their kitchen they got a new one that kept breaking and they had the engineer out several times in the first year. Then I found this book in the hoards and hoards of books in the shop:
So of course I bought it and will take it back to my studio. I’m hoping to have some studio time in between working on site to ‘process’ everything: all my scavenging from the charity shop and the photos, stories and information I’ve gleaned.