I have never bought much from Ikea, which is a shame as, if I had, it turns out, I could now take it back, and even get vouchers in return. I yearn to be able to get rid of things without worrying about them having to go into a hole in the ground. I have a chronic case of landfill fear. If I think hard enough about landfill, it genuinely starts to panic me. I consider what I have to throw away in a week and worry about the space it will take up. And then I multiply that by the discard of my more than 60 million fellow Britons. Soon my mind’s eye widens in horror at the spectre of my children, and their children, living in, under and around towering mountains of crap.
I used to play golf at a place called Stockley Park, near Heathrow. It is built atop a landfill site. OK, nice idea; it’s a good course. But one time I was disappointed to find my ball lodged in a peculiar patch of muddy, scrappily grassed earth. As I addressed the ball to play my next shot, a bubble of water rose and popped at my feet. I rubbed my eyes and looked again. Sure enough, there it was: all around my ball the ground moved and bubbled, like an extremely minor Icelandic tourist attraction. I felt very strongly this was the landfill fighting back, seething and boiling in fury at the madness of consumption. I don’t think I’ve put anything in a bin since without seeing that scene play out around my size 11 golf shoes.
So it is that I’m now forced to hoard. If I can’t give it away or be sure it’s recycled, then I must hold on to it. My shredder has just bust. Some bloke wants 90 quid to doubtless fail to fix it. I must buy another, and for half that price, but I cannot take the old one to the dump. What if it can’t be used? How long will those horrible blunt-yet-sharp crunching blades lie in the ground surrounded by rotting matter? For all eternity, I assume. Until the Earth explodes, not by way of an asteroid or nuclear war or the Yellowstone volcano going bang, but simply through the detonation of a billion megatons of our species’ waste.