One man’s survey is another’s rubbish


“Census changes produced costly, unreliable ‘garbage,’ researchers say” – The Globe and Mail, October 5, 2013

Greetings, and welcome to Canada’s National Household Survey.

This is  your government’s $650-million way of reaching out and saying, “howdy.”

We’ve moved to this strictly voluntary exercise because we believe that the citizens of this great country are already too busy, too hassled, in their everyday lives to want to provide the “nanny state” with information that might actually prove useful to economic and social planners, who are just a bunch of nosey parkers anyway.

But if you can afford a few minutes (and don’t feel any compunction if you can’t) why not fill out the questionnaire in our new section on post-consumption uses for common items of refuse? We call it “Garbage in, garbage out.”


Question 1: When faced with an empty milk carton, do you: a) throw it in the trash; b) add it to your collection, which you keep next to your growing ball of used string; or c) turn it into a candelabra for the dinner table?

Question 2: When your child outgrows his sneakers, do you: a) give them to charity; b) craft them into hand puppets to amuse trick or treaters; or c) tie them together and hang them from a power line?

Question 3: Circle the statement that most accurately reflects how you feel about spent coffee grinds: a) they’re utterly useless; b) for reading the future, they can’t be beat; c) they’re a great addition to any household potpourri; or d) I don’t drink coffee.

Question 4: Indicate your opinion of plastic grocery bags from one of the following options: a) I have no opinion of plastic grocery bags; b) plastic grocery bags are the weapons of choice within the petrochemical-industrial complex; or c) when tied to your feet with rubber bands, plastic grocery bags make wonderful house slippers.

Question 5: Which of the following common items of refuse do you consider provides most post-consumption use: a) a dry-cleaning tag; b) a restaurant receipt; or c) a wadded-up ball of toilet paper?

Question 6: Which of the following common items of refuse to your consider provides least post-consumption use: a) a cigarette butt; b) a cocktail stir stick; or c) a wadded up ball of toilet paper.

Question 7: On a scale of one to ten – where one signifies “strong disagreement” and ten signifies “strong agreement” – rank your reaction to the following three statements displayed on the website of Big Spring Environmental, based in Huntsville, Alabama:

First: “Isn’t it amazing what you can do with paper towel or toilet paper tubes? Simply cut some spent paper towel tubes into one-inch pieces, flatten them and glue them together for a masterpiece your kids will love! Some additional suggestions for you to consider are pasting a picture in the center, hanging several of them as snowflakes or using it as a countdown for special holidays (kids would love tearing it apart piece by piece). After it’s all put together, paint them up!”

Second: “This igloo is made entirely of empty milk jugs! It would obviously take a while to collect this many, but asking friends and neighbors to save their cartons would help speed up the process. Moreover, when the time comes to tear it down, look at all of the recyclable goodness you will have accumulated! Start saving them today!”

Third: “There are many good uses for old newspapers around the house, but this one takes the cake. With the help of some balloons, paste, newspapers and lighting, you can build these light-up globes. They’re awesome. The next time you’re about to throw away tissue paper or newspaper, give this activity a try!”

Thank you for completing the “Garbage in, garbage out” section of Canada’s National Household Survey. Rest assured, none of the information you have provided in this questionnaire will be used in any way. Period.

In fact, it’s quite probable we won’t even read it, which, come to think of it, leaves you with an alternative to mailing it back to us.

Toss in the garbage where it belongs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: