Harsh Lessons to be Learned from Castleisland’s County Clean-Up Debacle

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. The potential of the pile of waste at Tonbwee was obvious to recycling specialists who visited the site last week. ©Photograph: John Reidy

Last week’s general misunderstanding on the status of the collection point for the county clean-up day had a polarising hold on the area like never before.

Some harsh lessons will have to be learned from it all – the least being that the particular site will never be used again for anything like this.

The designated collection area in Tonbwee just off Barrack Street, which has usually accommodated the red refuse bags after such days, rapidly turned into a pile of all kinds of unwanted household rubbish.

As I mentioned here last week there were people who genuinely believed that this was exactly what the site meant for them and that it was there at their disposal.

There was a Precedent

Kerry County Council did, after all, offer such a service some years ago when the huge collection of such waste was collected at various points around the county. And there were collections of used electrical goods in the recent past.

The installation and use of captures from a surveillance camera by a person associated with the local Tdy Towns has been widely condemned with several people adamant that the practice should be ‘called out’ on several counts with the omnipresent General Data Protection Regulation / GDPR cited in several instances.

Camera Stills Posted

Stills from the camera were posted on a social media site with veiled threats of prosecution and shame. Images of clown faces were imposed on the actual faces of the people who left stuff at the site and it left people rattled and worried.

The camera and the resultant images had another worrying impact. It was believed, by some people captured on the images, that they came from the home security cameras installed by the residents of the senior citizens’ houses nearby for their personal protection and safety

Steps Taken in Fear

In this regard, steps had to be taken by carers and relatives of the senior citizens there to head off a situation which they felt was getting out of hand.

Could a case be made for such a managed and supervised collection point three or four time per year where people would be encouraged bring the cleaning out of sheds and garages for one designated day.

This would be in preference to people dumping their stuff in local bogs and into ditches and over walls around the area – and we have some considerable form in that model of rubbish disposal.

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

Such a collection point and the old proverb ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ could be tried. On an appointed day or days with time limit or cut-off point for people who had stuff to deposit followed by a couple of strictly supervised hours given to recycling specialists.

And I saw an outstanding example of this in Tonbwee last week where, given the time, the pile would have been greatly reduced and a profit turned for such a practitioner.

There is such a ready market for the kind of stuff which made up the infamous pile at Tonbwee last week – which included some very reusable wooden items.

Drama groups, film sets and antique shops are prominent on the list of possible markets. If profit isn’t your drive or motivation there are the open, welcoming doors of local charity shops which would, no doubt, decrease any such pile even further and recycling is at the core of all this activity.

A Handy if Precarious Living

Sorting through piles of rubbish may be a sub culture in this rapidly spinning world of ours but there are people who make a handy if precarious living from such recycling activity.

Years ago I asked a young neighbour of mine what he was going to do when he grew up. “I’ll go around the place collecting things and cleaning them up and selling them on and I’ll have my bit of dole as well,” he said – and that was his life plan as he saw it.

How the animal kingdom conducts its business, where contributing to the general welfare of its environment is just a way of life without excess or waste –  if only we would learn.

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