If you were listening into the JVS show on Three Counties Radio last Thursday, you would have heard me chatting briefly with caller Jenny about her rubbish.
Jenny had phoned in to tell presenter Jonathan Vernon-Smith that her solution to the problem of over-packaging is to unwrap it and leave it at the supermarket. She relayed it with such great humour, I was disappointed when our 5 minutes airtime was up.
I knew I could have talked rubbish with her for much longer. Her character was compelling.
So, I decided to catch up with her off-air and I guess it’ll be of no surprise that we had a good old gasbag for an hour.
Jenny, soon to be 60, is widowed and lives on her own. She describes herself as an ordinary, everyday person, who is just happy in her own company, pottering around and enjoying her retirement.
I asked her why she decided to call into the radio station and this is her reply:
“Once you’re conscious of things like rubbish and you see how easy it is to make the change within yourself, you get drawn to what others are doing. When I heard Jonathan talking about the supermarket and the wrappers, I didn’t give it a second thought, I just rang up to tell them what I do with my wrappings. I was surprised when the producer Laura said she’d put me on air”.
As Jenny laughs about her actions, it becomes obvious that she is a do-er with a great sense of humour and is someone who is happy to stand up and be counted.
“Instead of just moaning to myself or my friends I take action,” she chuckles.
“When walking along my local high street, a couple of months ago, on a cold winter’s day, I passed what might be regarded as the top greetings card shop in the country, with its doors wide open. How ignorant I thought, to have the doors wide open, with full heating on, blasting all that hot air out into the street.”
“When I approached the manager and suggested how wasteful it was, she looked at me as though I was from another planet and said, ‘it’s shop policy’… ‘Doors open mean the shop’s open, doors closed means the shop’s closed.’”
“So I took it upon myself to remark loudly that it was very short-sighted of other customers not to have said something about it, after all we are the ones who are going to pay for this waste of energy the next time they put the price of the cards up.”
Jenny may appear to be an activist, but she is just an average person who has perhaps found her inner rebel and now has the confidence to do something about it.
When I asked her about her rubbish and recycling, she said that it’s only in the last couple of years that she’s paid particular attention to it, recalling that it must have been 10 years ago that her area was issued with recycling bins to sort out paper and tins.
These days, her area has pink bags for things like newspapers, cardboard and packaging and a black bin for landfill waste. Through choosing products carefully and taking recyclables back to the local supermarket facilities, Jenny’s landfill binbag remains quite small and she only needs to put it out every three weeks, despite a weekly collection.
However Jenny acknowledges difficulties with the current system. “When the council changes its contracted services, it can get quite complicated for residents while everyone tries to get used to it.”
She also believes that more could be done to encourage people to recycle more and comments,
“The local supermarket car park has some recycling facilities, which I use for the few tins I buy, but there could be more facilities available.”
At this point she happens to reflect on society in general and adds, “It’s also about getting people to have new thought patterns.”
“For example, I’ll take some rolled up bags to the shops and often people look at me strangely.”
“Some of my peer group just think I’m making a fuss and sometimes say I should get a life. I just tell them that perhaps they should stop rushing around so much and start thinking about other things that are important”.
I bet some of my own friends probably think the same about me and the various habits that I've developed over the last few months.
During our short chat, I quickly decided that I really liked Jenny's gumption and admired her approach. She doesn't have access to the Internet, but she did write down the address of this blog. So if any of Jenny's friends or relatives are reading, please give her a big high-five from me and thank her for agreeing to be featured.