I am an archaeologist by training and I have a soft spot for the archaeologists, linguists, and historians of the past, like Sir Henry Rawlinson, who was one of the first to decipher ancient cuneiform tablets, and Jean-François Champollion, who used the Rosetta Stone to translate Egyptian hieroglyphics. Their work has allowed us to tap into the history and records of vanished civilizations, giving us access to the thoughts and literature of the distant past.

Today the story is a bit different. Modern packaging contains its own share of hieroglyphics that aren’t readily understood by their own culture, if they’re even seen at all. This Yorkie bar wrapper collected during #OneADayInMay has two such symbols. First are those two interlocking arrows. This is known as the Green Dot and is a common symbol throughout Europe. It does not mean that the packaging is recyclable or made out of recycled material, but rather that the producer has made a financial contribution towards the recovery and recycling of packaging in general.

Next to it is a Tidy Man-like logo to remind people not to litter and dispose of rubbish properly. We all know how well that works as a deterrent …

Symbols are all well and good if they are 1) visible, and 2) understood by a majority of the population. When it comes to litter and recycling, we are at the point where clear language is needed. Maybe “£150 fine for littering; use a bin and buy more Yorkie bars” would get the message across?

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