When an organization endorses a sign, then what that sign says (and what happens to it) reflects on that organization. Just as the attitude of fast food giants to the planet is best reflected in their tacit acceptance of their branded, discarded food wrappers in every hedgerow—because, well, all publicity is good publicity, right?—then the attitude of companies, charities and public bodies to their customers or the people they serve can often be deduced from their signage.
We’ve covered the passive-aggressive signs that are a feature of communication in charity shops before. West Oxfordshire District Council also employ a good number of signs, as you’d expect. Some of them advertise their paid-for “public” toilets: or, as WODC might prefer to call them, “a punch in the face for poor folk.” And some of the signs advertise their public recycling facilities, as parlous as you’d expect any Tory council’s facilities to be. They list all the materials that the facilities accept, so that you don’t have to turn up with a pile of recyclables and then have to take them home again.
The facilities on the way to work, among others, claim to recycle textiles and other goods. When I cycled a few old clothes out there on the way to work this morning relying on the sign, I found that there was no textile bin to be seen. I had to cycle said clothes all the way into work and back, a laden-down round trip of fourteen miles that I could have done with being considerably lighter. The bin’s absence rings a faint bell, that the Salvation Army used to run the bins but then took them away (God forbid the council might run a guaranteed service when they can get a charity to plug their leaky underfunded boat in an unreliable fashion.) In fact, as the bell rings stronger, I remember that these bins were taken away from the Eynsham services months ago.
All of those months later, the sign in Witney still declares textile recycling, long after the bin has presumably gone. The sign will almost certainly continue to attract stupid, foolish textile recyclers—you morons!—long into the winter. Because if you’re the person whose job it is to order the sign change, then you know that there’s no longer any textile bins, so why would you bother changing them? Isn’t it obvious? Why would you need to change the sign? What might prompt a person to do that? Who reads signs anyway?