Just Toss It
I’ve been watching a squirrel on my deck.
He was eating a nut and tossing off the pieces he didn’t want.
He wasn’t concerned with keeping the floor clean. He didn’t go look for a trash can, or bother to sweep and vacuum. Nope — he just tossed it off and went to find another one.
Must be nice. But I sort of do the same thing. When I’ve sliced off the parts of the pepper that I want, I just toss the rest. Into the trash. Unlike the great outdoors, this trash can fits under my sink. But it serves the same purpose — receiving the scraps that I don’t want. Which is a lot, now that I’m paying attention.
Instead of returning to the earth, my scraps get embalmed in a ‘sanitary’ landfill. In the meantime, more organic stuff is taken from the earth to start the same process over again. Imagine zillions of kitchens, with people tossing endless seeds and skins and leaves, sending them all on a one-way trip.
Oddly, I never thought about this for most of my life. The trash can was just part of the environment, like the sun — probably created on the 3rd day, right after the plants, so Eve wouldn’t mess up the garden with apple peels.
And those naughty people who litter?
We have to be taught not do that. We aren’t supposed to interact directly with the outdoors. We have institutions to do that for us — farms and grocery stores on one end and garbage trucks and landfills on the other. We are in the middle. The outdoors is ‘landscape’ — we don’t actually live there.
But wait a minute — why does the squirrel get away with littering and we don’t? One reason — our litter isn’t like nutshells that go back into the topsoil. Plastic straws are forever.
Now imagine you are driving along sipping your mocha latte. When it’s gone, you open up the window and toss the cup out. Imagine that in a few hours, days, some span of time, that coffee cup begins to behave like a dropped leaf. It crumbles and rejoins the earth. You have actually done a good thing by littering.
So why do our disposable items need to be immortal? Reusable containers are immortal, too — the idea doesn’t really match the way nature works. They only reinforce the idea that nature is ‘out there’ and we are not participants.
Paper and packaging and containers are colorful and creative. They reflect endless our creativity which reflects nature’s endless creativity. If only they didn’t last forever.
Instead of ‘zero waste’, let’s let up on waste, and respect it’s place in the ecosystem.
Will ‘biodegradable’ one day become the the norm? Will the idea of immortal trash soon go the way of lead paint and cars without seat belts? Hopefully so — here’s an article about an Irish company with an idea:
Maybe soon we can return from our self-imposed ‘exile’ and take our rightful places as earthly creatures.