That’s me in your kitchen – used tea bag in one hand, empty yoghurt container in the other and a hunted look on my face. I am the dazed recycler. I freeze in the presence of colour-coded waste bins with their plethora of little post-its telling me what not to do with my rubbish, and whiteboard notices shouting out in red pen and capital letters: Who is putting the wrong stuff in the small green bin by the fridge. Stop Now. You Are Killing My Chickens. That sort of thing.
From the moment recycling first began occupying the high moral ground, I knew I had been set up for failure. Now not only will I be chased by soggy teabags and messy disposable nappies when I pass on to the other side, but infuriated chickens and tetchy owners will be in hot pursuit as well.
But why am I such a reluctant, heel-dragging recycler? I’m not really a horrible, careless person, it’s more to do with the earnest humourlessness of the whole sad and sorry mess. As a result I’ve always assumed that reading matter on recycling will be dull and green and brown. And there is plenty of serious digital material available, but a quick scroll down the recycling books available at the library shows that this belief, although occasionally true, is by no means the whole story. For example, there’s Embrace Your Space for arty gardening tips, Recycled Chic for quirky clothing and the utterly delightful, totally irreverent, non-PC How to Save the World by Recycling Your Sex Toys.
But this not the material that got me thinking about recycling. Instead it was the velvet covered, stunningly beautiful book Dining with the Maharajas, in which I stumbled on the following recycling extravaganza created for Emperor Jahingir. Here’s how it goes: At the beginning of a year take 365 chickens. Each day kill one chicken and mince it with saffron. Feed this mixture to the remaining chickens. Continue like this for a whole year, until at the end there is only one surviving chicken grown plump and juicy on this diet. Kill the last chicken and serve it to the Emperor.
That’s the spirit!