Green shoots and leaves III
How you measure a green shoot, part three.
It's the Magazine's ongoing hunt for alternative ways of measuring what's going on in the economy.
So far this week we've looked at your suggestions for measuring trends in transport (number of cars on the M6, for instance) and newspapers (number of job adverts). Today we have to consider sick on the pavement.
Dan from New Orleans sets the scene. "The city of New Orleans judges the success of a Mardi Gras by, among other things, the total weight of garbage collected during that time period. Perhaps a Trash Index, seasonally adjusted for the weeks after Christmas and the turn of the school year, would give an idea of the state of the economy. You could also adjust the index to compensate for recycling and donations of used goods to charities. After all, in a good economy, people buy more things and replace them more often, generating garbage in packaging waste and in the goods they throw out, so the amount of garbage generated should be a pretty good indicator. It may also serve as a public awareness tool by constantly reminding people just how much waste we produce as a civilization."
Sarah, England proposes a Chewing Gum on the Pavement index. "More chewing gum = more money to buy chewing gum," she says, though we're not completely convinced by the logic. Stewart Paling, London, offers a variation: "More broken glass and cigarette butts on the pavements outside pubs suggests people are flush enough to afford to socialise again," which might be true, but the broken glass might mean people are more in the mood to start fighting because they're hard up.
So if not cigarette butts, then what?
Marc Davies from Aberdare proposes the amout of pizza discarded in the street with only a single slice missing. "Pizzas are not exactly an inexpensive end to the night anymore," he says, adding that a kebab index would be misleading since they are mostly bought in "alcohol-induced forgetfulness of how bad last week was".
DW, London, proposes "Drunken Fools": "I haven't been woken up at two in the morning by drunken fools singing or shouting in the street for some time. Every cloud has a silver lining."
Rodrigo proposes the numbers of people dressed in full goth/metal/punk attire in Camden in north London. "I doubt most of these people get investment banker wages. I remember when I first arrived in London, going to Camden on a weekend was a spectacle of urban subculture splendour. Ever since the crisis hit, it almost looks normal."
All imaginative but not quite right for our purposes. So final word for now goes to Joe who paints a beautiful picture of Slough. "More people going out the night before spending more money on drink, means more sick on the street the morning after."
Charming. Refinements to the proposals welcome via the comments field.