A problem shared….
Government, employers, PRs…a devious lot, one and all.
There is much hand-wringing about the UK’s low recycling rate. Jolly serious politicians use the media to urge ‘householders’ to recycle their rubbish. If ‘we’ all use three different bins, the world will be a cleaner place. Or take last summer when there was a hosepipe ban, and ‘we’ were made to feel ashamed for putting a splash of water on our toothbrush before cleaning our teeth.
Whether it’s that ‘we’ drive our kids to school, fly more often or buy cheap food, ‘we’ – householders, consumers, average Joes – seem to be intent on ruining the world for everyone.
Except, of course, that the problems – and their solutions - don’t actually lie with ‘us’ at all. Poor recycling rates have more to do with government policy and businesses than inconsiderate consumers. And ‘we’ were short of water because it was deemed OK to build millions of houses in one corner of the country without updating the water supply infrastructure and, of course, to allow Thames Water to piss most of it away.
Yet the focus always comes back on how ‘we’ must change our ways. In many cases, of course, ‘we’ quite legitimately must play our part…although the burden of separating your rubbish into three different bins when you live in a small flat in London with no storage space - and the borough has just switched to only collecting rubbish every fortnight - is too much for most of us. Especially when you know that the contents of all three bins end up in the same hole anyway because the council hasn’t got the private sector firms in place to keep their side of the bargain.
The jolly serious politicians know this of course. They don’t actually think, or probably even care, what ‘we’ do. But by reminding us that ‘we’ could be doing more, they share – or at least shift - the problem. It’s harder to not vote for a government because it’s weak on the environment if it’s just pointed out that you’re a bit crap too.
Which is also a favourite tactic for employers, of course. The AD just buggered up the account? The AM wasn’t managing upwards effectively. Having to stay in work until 8pm every night to get through your excessive workload? Poor time management skills. Client doesn’t appreciate all your work? You’re not selling the results back to them well enough. A grain of truth in all of those, but the greater responsibility lies elsewhere. Yet shifting the issue quells the complaint.
When ‘my’ business is going down the toilet (because ‘I’m’ spending all the money on fast cars, a flash house, sharp suits, lap dancers and a coke habit), ‘we’ must all work harder.
Despicable PR tactic? Not me guv, it’s an industry issue…