One man's rubbish...

    Colin Beaven vor britischer Flagge
    Von Colin Beaven

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    We’re to drownertrinken; hier: erstickendrowning in plastic packaging, but at last we have bin (UK)Abfallcontainer, Abfallbehälterbins where some of it can be recycled. It’s a help, but no doubt plastic bags will still be burned or sent to landfillMülldeponielandfill — or continue to find their way into the sea. In any case, I can only speak for the town where I live. No two parts of the country seem to have the same system for recycling their rubbish.

    It’s strange. Every town centre in Britain is identical, with identical shops and buildings. But different ways of recycling rubbish are generally treated like ancientaltertümlichancient craftHandwerkcrafts, with local variations that are lovingly to preserveerhaltenpreserved.

    Surprisingly, the plastic that ends up in our seas itself gives us opportunities for individuality. We just have to wait for it to be washed up on the beach, and we can go to beachcombStrandgut sammelnbeachcombing. A friend of mine who’s had a lifelong passion for archaeology always finds something unusual when he’s out for a walk by the seaside.

    You need talent to be a good beachcomber. I’ve tried it. All I found were combs, ironically. They were all different colours, and made of very pretty plastic, but unlikely to interest the British Museum. Clever beachcombers, though, find all sorts of things: toys, for example, like dollPuppedolls, aliens and monsters. Even though they’re made of plastic, not gold, brassMessingbrass or marbleMarmor; auch: Murmelmarble, these surreal little figures have a story to tell, like all archaeological finds.

    Archaeological stories are not always as clear as they could be, though. When I was visiting a Roman fort on Hadrian’s Wall, up in Northumbria, I remember we were shown an old wellBrunnenwell where decorative things had been found; clearly, we were told, it was a place where the Romans made offering(Opfer-)Gabeofferings.

    A little girl in our group leaned forward to have a closer look and dropped the marble she was holding. It disappeared into the water, and she to burst into tearsin Tränen ausbrechenburst into tears. It was her favourite marble. But it was unrealistic to look for it. So it’s still in the well, waiting for future archaeologists to provide an explanation — unlike the German visitor’s car keys.

    The previous year, it seems, a tourist from Germany had dropped his car keys into the same well. Clearly, it was unrealistic not to look for them. And in the end, he found them. Luckily. It’s not just that it would have ruined his holiday if he hadn’t. Future archaeologists might have misinterpreted the evidence.

    There are stories of bored middle-class couples entertaining themselves by wife-swappingPartnertauschwife-swapping. They all threw their car keys into the middle of the room and then picked up someone else’s. It was their way of choosing a new partner for the evening.

    Roman soldiers who lived on Hadrian’s Wall no doubt had to find ways of passing the time and keeping warm in cold Northumbrian winters. But one wouldn’t want to to start a rumourein Gerücht in die Welt setzenstart a rumour that they threw car keys into a mini-version of the Trevi Fountain just to make their sex lives more exciting.

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