Dear Etiquette Gran: Let's talk rubbish

Is it OK to chuck your rubbish into your neighbour's bins? Etiquette Gran gives you the lowdown.

Is it OK to chuck your rubbish into your neighbour's bins? Etiquette Gran gives you the lowdown.

Dear Etiquette Gran,
The other night I went outside to chuck an empty wine bottle into the recycling bin. Ours was full to overflowing, so I threw it in the neighbours’ one, which was nearly empty. The next day, I found it back in our recycling bin – after it had been emptied by the garbos. I’m a bit red-faced, but should I be, really?
– Wino of Waitakere

Dear Wino,
We’ll talk about your drinking later – it sounds like you’re turning one on at the boozer a bit too regularly, if your recycling bin can’t cope with a lone bottle. It’s not the drinking, it’s how we’re drinking, and all that. (It’s actually the drinking – they just want you to think it’s more complex than that.)

But it’s a bit embarrassing, isn’t it? And it has implications on several levels. Firstly, they too know about your drinking; they know you enjoy a bottle or five of Sheridan’s each week and hence are somewhat stuck in the 1990s – or in West Auckland, if you will.

They know you mostly go for cleanskins, the vino of choice for the tightarse in everyone. They know you occasionally knock off Stolis, and there’s no way to reverse that revelation.

Even more terrifyingly, they must have been watching you closely to know of your midnight deed. Do they have a spy cam nestled inside their garden gnome? Do the curtains twitch surreptitiously as you walk to your car? Have you polished your tinfoil hat lately? All valid questions to ask oneself in the day and age of the GCSB.

Now let us turn to the etiquette at hand. Was your bottle-drop a garbage faux pas? Not really. Etiquette is all about having consideration for other people, so always ask yourself how the other person has been affected by your choices, actions, words or lack of appropriate clothing.

In this case, your Nosy Neighbour hasn’t been seriously affected and as such can have no complaint. Just ease up on the drink, eh?

Etiquette Gran

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