Just Toss It
I’ve been watching a squirrel on my deck. He was eating a nut and tossing pieces shell over the side.
He didn't worry about keeping the deck clean. He didn’t look for a trash can, or sweep and vacuum. He just left the mess where it landed in the great outdoors.
Must be nice. When I slice up a vegetable, I git rid of the scraps, too. They go into the trash can. Unlike the great outdoors, the trash can fits under my sink. But it serves the same purpose — receiving the bits and pieces of things 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. All that is required is different materials that are not immortal.
Instead of ‘zero waste’, let’s let up on waste, and respect it’s place in the ecosystem. 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. That we are perched on some lofty ledge, looking down on the earth.
I'm looking forward to a time when 'littering' is proper behavior and nice people don't throw things in the trash.