I am currently embroiled in a battle. A recycling battle. I am convinced that someone in the block of flats next door has stolen my recycling bins, again.
The first time the bins went walkies I blamed myself because I hadn’t put our number on them. An amateur move, I admit.
I put it down to experience, ordered new bins and painted our number on with Tipex (an ordeal which culminated in the ruin of a pair of leggings).
Next Sunday evening I took the bins down and left them in front of the flats next door (that being the only place on my street where they can go), only to find that they had disappeared again come Monday. Something was afoot. I peered through next door’s frosted glass and saw at least six green bins stacked in their hallway.
There was only one thing for it. I girded my loins and wrote my first ever passive-aggressive, middle-class note.
“Please leave the green and brown boxes with the number 43 written on them outside, so I don’t have to re-order them. If it wasn’t you who took them, my apologies!”
I decided against adding a smiley at the last minute. Which may have been a mistake because nothing happened. No one came grovelling to my door, no neighbourly friendships were struck up, we did not laugh it off with a glass of wine.
Days passed, and then, as I was walking past the next door flats, a woman came out. I pounced. It's not like me to accost people, but we all have our limits.
“Excuse me, but I think one of those boxes is mine,” I said, pointing at the tottering stack behind her.
She told me she had received my note and checked the bins and none of them had 43 on them.
A likely story.
You might question why I am telling you this frankly mundane story. The fact is, the whole debacle is feeding into a much bigger problem - I have insane guilt about the environment.
I’ve always been a guilt-ridden person, but caring about the environment is a new thing for me. A few years ago I wouldn't have given two hoots about it (and I can admit that, because I am unflinching in the face of my own failings).
Now, things are different. I internally flog myself every time I throw an avocado pit into the main bin and not the food one. I think about the poor fish nibbling on poisonous plastic. I picture mountains of rubbish reaching to the sky, which weirdly is a line from a song we used to sing in primary school. Gone are the days when I could sing merrily about toxic waste and not feel partly responsible.
But, like everyone else (apart from Al Gore I suppose, but I read somewhere he's a complete knob), I am too set in my world-destroying ways to do much more than the bare minimum when it comes to being more environmentally friendly. And I do love a good Deliveroo and all those delicious things that arrive in individual plastic containers.
So, as ever, I am left feeling perplexed and unworthy. Is this what adulthood is going to be? More and more guilt until I explode and all that's left is a sad little blob of guilt and attempted righteousness?
P.s. I wrote this yesterday and you will be pleased to hear that my recycling bins have now been returned (I suspect by the woman who I pounced on). I gave them a spank for going off with a stranger and they have promised not to do it again.
P.p.s I think the real lesson to come out of this is that we should all talk more and never write passive aggressive notes. I stand by the position I took when I lived in shared university accommodation - pass-agg notes should always be ignored and, if necessary, incinerated.