March of the plastic monoliths relentless
It's like a weird municipal version of poker. One friend uses a blue wheelie bin for recycling. Another divides their waste up into a series of caddies.
My mum in Fermanagh swears her general waste goes into a green bin and her recyclables are for the blue bin.
Meanwhile, I juggle three bins at my home in Castlereagh (not literally) – a black bin for general waste, a brown bin for garden waste and blue bin for dry recyclables. And yet another friend has no fewer than five wheelie bins lined up outside his home – plus a caddy. It's enough to make your head spin.
And now things look set to get even more baffling – with a report that Europe could soon be requiring us to sift our rubbish into six bins, while Banbridge proposes cutting black bin collections to once a month.
If it weren't for the fact that they've already done killer wheelie bins, it could be shaping up to be a Doctor Who plot – the Rise of the Wheelie Bin, as insidious multicoloured plastic monoliths quietly reproduce in our alleys. One day we will look back on 2014 as a golden age when the kerbs of terrace streets were lined with cars, instead of solid walls of bins.
Perhaps in 20 years' time our children will have adapted to the new regime by evolving new street games like wheelie bin polo. With the best will in the world, I can't imagine how the average Banbridge family is going to manage to hold out for an entire month before the black bin is emptied – and I can't imagine what the stench will be like.
Before my daughter was potty-trained last year, our family of three generated an incredible amount of general waste – even though my husband makes sure all the cardboard and milk cartons are recycled correctly.
There were times when we forgot about the bin collection and ended up having to cart a couple of rancid bags of rubbish – dominated by oozing nappies – to the recycling centre.
I don't think my sinuses have ever quite recovered.