Household rubbish and I go back a long way. As a child, probably from the age of seven, one of my jobs was to empty the wastepaper baskets and, with them, the ashtrays.

After seventy years, not much has changed. Although thanks to a shift in social customs, ashtrays no longer need attention, I still do the waste-paper baskets once a week. Now, however, there is additional work – I also have overall responsibility for the disposal of household rubbish more generally which, in our cottage in France, includes managing two compost heaps which are heavily dependent on kitchen waste.

In all this I have to keep my wits about me. The idea of recycling, which has great appeal, brings complications. In Richmond we have four different categories of rubbish each stored separately for collection, in Tréguennec it is three with plastic and glass handled separately and in Paris two – but there, nobody cares! In Richmond and Tréguennec attitudes to rubbish and its collection have gone up in the world!

This blog is about one particular aspect of collection – a new development in the way we, in Richmond, manage the rubbish while it is waiting outside to be removed by the council. More specifically, this blog is about a new binstore in our front garden.

Dustbins, along with the various ‘recycling’ bags and boxes filled with  paper, plastic, or food waste and the like can be unsightly and, late in the week, rather smelly. They are also susceptible to fox attack with food-containing bags ripped open and their contents distributed far and wide. Not surprisingly, there are countless entries on the Internet suggesting ways in which bins can be hidden. None of them looks like ours!

Obviously, the storage space has to be accessible to householders and refuse collectors alike. And for years, access for us was a problem. When we bought our house seventeen years ago the binstore we inherited was a nightmare. Despite a complicated counter-lever device, its lid was so heavy that I found it difficult to lift – and for Rohan it was almost impossible. Soon the device came off its bearings and I was left as the sole opener and, even then, it needed two hands. Now, after years of procrastination everything has changed and the problem is resolved.

For the new binstore we asked Ollie, designer, creator and youngest son, to build something special. Commissioning was done over the Internet while we were away in France during a lull in the coronavirus pandemic. The brief was to dismantle the old brick storage space and build something in its place that would be pleasing to the eye, would allow easy access, and would reflect the new importance of rubbish. We also asked that in its building there should be no compromises!

A series of sketched proposals were soon exchanged with different ideas but all on the same theme – the binbox would look like our house. Accordingly, as we live at No. 2; the new container would be called no. 2A. Discussions about proportions, dimensions, fine details, colour and materials went back and forth and then, with everything worked out – well almost –  building started and it was given a nick name. While officially it will remain 2A, privately it will be known as the ‘Temple of Bin’ (see illustration)

I introduced the Temple to Peter, a member of the refuse collection team and he was delighted. It was unusual for people to think in this way about the storage of household waste. It made him chuckle out loud.

For most of the week the Temple will serve as a safe haven for our bins and bags generally. On the evening before the collection most of the waste is put out on the pavement ready for the collection next day. The general household waste stays locked up that extra night, safe from any prowling fox and then is taken out by the collectors themselves when they arrive early next day.

Having a new and easily accessible home for our bins comes as a great relief. The fact that it has a grand aspect is amusing and befits rubbish’s new higher status. It is also important to me that we are not trying to hide our rubbish away behind a nondescript or bland wall or fence, rather it is something that is unmissable and might even provoke questions. That the collection team seem to feel the same way as we do gives added pleasure.

The illustration shows a photo of our new outside container for dustbins, boxes and assorted bags. The style of this ‘Temple of Bin’ echoes that of the 1896 terraced house it serves (photo updated 23 January 2021).

For helping me write this blog, I would like to thank Oliver, Rohan and Vivien.

12 thoughts on “In Celebration of Rubbish

  1. Dear Joe,

    You must have the most beautiful garbage storage in England! I am now staying with Swinder while work is being doe on my apartment. We are waiting for bin removal on Tuesday in order to do more work in the garden -which will fill up the garden refuse bins!




  2. Wow the ‘Temple’ is bloomin’ marvellous!

    Ollie has done such an amazing job, he is so talented and it’s a typical Collier collaboration… i.e. not quite what you expected but way beyond. Perhaps 2a should be painted on the front to mark it’s importance on the Avenue.


    1. Dear Carolyn, Thank you for your kind note. We are indeed planning to put ‘2A’ on the door but the work is still a tad ‘work-in-progress’. Love, Joe


  3. Cher Joe, je connais peu de personnes qui sachent rendre un hommage si poétique et si respectueux aux ordures ménagères. Quand Amélia était petite, nous nous étions retrouvées, au retour de l’école, bloquées derrière le “camion-poubelles”, qui avançait très lentement, s’arrêtant devant chaque maison de Tréguennec . Les “rippers” sautaient du camion, trainaient les containers à l’arrière du camion, les vidaient, les replaçaient à la hâte au bord de la route, et bondissaient en s’agrippant au camion. Amélia me déclara très gravement que quand elle serait grande, elle serait “éboueuse”. Je l’interrogeais, sans montrer ma surprise, intéressée par les raisons de cette vocation, et elle me répondit : “Mais regarde-les Mamig, comme c’est un beau métier ; ils dansent !” Merci Joe m’avoir rappelé ce ce joli souvenir !


    1. Bonjour Annie, Merci beaucoup pour tes commentaires si amusantes et généreuses. Quant aux pensées d’Amelia, elle a raison, les éboueurs en bonne forme sont un peu ‘balletiques’. Néanmoins, je préfère son métier favori – d’être judge. Bises, Joe


  4. Beautiful – and how original. I hope the rest of your street follows suit! But I would have liked you to post more photos showing the engineering – how it opens etc.


    1. Dear Merrily, Thank you for your comments. I am delighted it appeals. The ‘Temple’ is still work-in-progress and the doors are not fully finished. When it is, I might well update the illustration – watch this space. As to the inside, you will be pleased to hear that the roof is supported by rafters. Love, Joe


  5. Ouah impressive. Amazing work from Ollie. Are the doors going to open electronically? It will need some sort of light, un “réverbère” may be.
    Thé Colliers never ceased to amaze me with their inventiveness!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very smart Temple of Bin indeed – we enjoying watching Ollie put it together and were originally concerned at what was being built in the Avenue, but the end result was pleasing to the eye and very much fitting to the avenue. Congratulations !

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear Joe, Rohan and Ollie
    I enjoyed watching its construction nipping in regularly from start to finish in the evenings after Ollie had finished for the day – each visit a new revelation. Magnificent

    Liked by 1 person

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