Saturday, October 24, 2009

Garbage Day

Whenever I take my trash and recycling out to the end of the driveway for the town to pick up, I feel lighter somehow when I get back to the house. That stuff is gone! The kitchen garbage, the stuff that can't be recycled, various things that I am getting rid of that can't go to Goodwill and no one else wants. All sorts of bits and pieces that came into my house one way or another are gone from my house for good. It always feels like progress.

But more and more, I am aware that that is an illusion. The stuff is just gone from here. It's not gone gone. It is somewhere. Maybe it gets incinerated, maybe they just dump it in a landfill somewhere. I've never bothered to find out. I should.

* * * * *

When I am walking or riding along a road or on a beach and see litter that people have discarded along the way, first I wonder who and why, and whether they considered, even for a second, what they were doing when they dumped the stuff there.

Then I wonder if the packaging designer gave any thought to how the package would look, lying on a beach or in the grass by the side of the road.

And then I think about this: imagine that when you die, you are suddenly confronted with all of the trash you generated in your entire lifetime. Not the trash that was generated on your behalf, just the trash that you discarded yourself. Aside from a few collectors' items (your old Barbie Dream House, for example), the stuff is garbage. And it's all yours.

Whether you dumped that six-pack of empties along the road in high school or just tossed the cans in a dumpster somewhere, it all comes back to you in the end. And so there you are, looking at a mountain of everything you ever discarded. (FWIW, recyclers might well have smaller mountains, since the stuff they recycle is reused and won't count against them in the end.)

I haven't figured out what happens next.

1 comment:

lucyfree said...

YES! I got here from twitter. You are so smart. This should get wide play. I'm RTing even though I don't really know how.