A load of rubbish

Upon returning from an eight-month world tour I have been lucky enough to fall back into my job with the council working on the essy kert. Now, on the whole, I enjoy my job. The pay is good, I’m out in the fresh air from start to finish, I’m pretty much getting a full body work out every day and I come home after each round satisfied in the knowledge I’ve done a good honest day’s work.

However, besides the stiff breeze and occasional spells of light drizzle we have to endure, there is one thing about my job that really grinds my gears. Every day as we walk the streets we are faced with the sight of rubbish strewn across the pavements while a flock of seagulls triumphantly march around in it.

The birds are treating themselves to our scraps and leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. The place is a mess and it has to stop!

This town literally sees shiploads (spelt with a “p”) of tourists disembark from cruise liners every week and when I see them walking on the roads to avoid a pile of waste on the pavement I feel embarrassed to be a local. These people have paid good money to come and see the wonderful sights our homeland has to offer. I hardly think they’re interested in discovering the remains of what was on last week’s Tesco shopping list, however tasty it might have been.

I must say that the majority of homeowners do a good job of presenting their bags for collection each week, however a number of people (usually repeat offenders) seem to show a complete lack of effort in making sure their bags remain intact, protected from our feathered foes. The attitude seems to be that the gulls are to blame in all of this, when it is if fact us humans who are at fault. One lady I met last week even said she feels sorry for her neighbour as the gulls are ripping her bags open while she’s at work. I feel sorry for her neighbour too, sorry that she lacks the brain capacity to outsmart a scorie.

Come on now folks. We are 21st century human beings. The most intelligent lifeform to have ever existed in the known universe. As a population we have grown civilisations, landed man on the moon, eradicated smallpox, we can now use the power of the wind to boil the kettle, and there’s even a guy from Stoke-On-Trent that can attach 104 clothes pegs to his face! We’ve achieved all of this and yet we continue to be outfoxed by a species which feeds its offspring vomit, poo on car windscreens and occasionally get their heads stuck in the bits of plastic that hold your six-pack of Tennents together. The shame!

Surely these pests can be beaten. Put a couple of heavy stones on your net, wrap your bags up tighter, parade up and down outside your gate with a 12-gauge pump action shotgun for all I care. Just make sure your bags remain in one piece! “But Andy, I’ve tried all these things,” I hear you cry. Well then let me offer you one more solution. There’s a new anti-seagull device on the market now called a “wheelie bin”, and until the day seagulls develop opposable thumbs (an evolutionary process which I’m sure will take at least a couple of million years) it will keep your bags secure and the town clean. At only £23 each (or £11.50 if you share with a neighbour) its a small price to pay for the benefits they provide.

Andrew Aitken


Add Your Comment
  • Christine Fordyce

    • July 28th, 2010 11:12

    I totally agree that the mess left by seagulls is awful but I think the essy kert boys need to take some responsability too!

    I live in Scalloway Road with steps up to the road from my garden so a wheelie bin is no use for me (unless you are willing to come and carry it up the steps?!). I use a net and double wrap all food waste to try to stop the scories and mostly this seems to work but I have also had mine ripped to pieces and last Tuesday there were dirty disposable nappies all over the path further up our road from where the scories had ripped into the poor wife’s bag.

    So while I think wheelie bins are splendid if you have access could you essy kert boys not carry a shovel? If we’re all double wrapping food, using nets, securing them and leaving it till as late as possible before putting them out; could you not do your bit too and pick up a shovel and scoop any loose debris?

  • Andrew Aitken

    • July 30th, 2010 10:08

    Granted, there are a few houses around the town where wheelie bins aren’t suitable and until a solution is thought up the residents will have to continue without them. However there are alternatives. Wrapping your bag in an old sheet before putting the net on seems to work well and some people put their bags out in small plastic bins with lids that can be clipped on top, they weigh less than the bags themselves and so shouldn’t be a problem to carry up a set of stairs.
    As bin men we are obliged to take your waste and as a resident you are responsible for presenting your waste in a suitable state for a kerbside collection. Where the responsibility for burst bags lies is a somewhat hazy area. I’m happy to pick up a few loose objects if a bag is burst and I will always pick out any glass I can see, but we cant be expected to clean up everything, we’d be there all night! Being the windiest place in the UK the contents of burst bags don’t tend to stay in one place for very long.
    As it stands the roadsweeper follows the route we do to collect any additional waste and as a department I believe we do a very good job of keeping the town clean. However, the fact we have quick response times and the capacity to deal with such waste is no excuse for it being there in the first place. I know the situation will never be perfect but if everyone was as responsible as yourself, double wrapping food, using nets, securing them and leaving it till as late as possible before putting them out, I can assure you the amount of burst bags we come across would be significantly reduced.
    Thank you for your input.


    • August 5th, 2010 21:37


  • Andrew Aitken

    • August 12th, 2010 21:15

    If any “disabled or infirm” occupant feels they need help with their waste collection they can arrange for an assisted lift by calling the S.I.C. Infrastructure Department. By doing this we can arrange for one of us to take your black bags or wheelie bin out to the essy kert for you.


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