Why The Big Picture Stinks

By | February 13, 2012

I’m reaching the end of this particular rope here. It’s the garbage, you see. I am not a big consumer but somehow I am sucked into producing garbage. I am trying to buy food that does not come in a package, I am trying to buy only what I need and I aim for items that do not come with overwhelming packaging yet somehow the future garbage material finds its way into my home and my life. And ultimately the landfill via my raccoon-loved garbage container outside. Enough then.

Why do we need our stuff packaged like it’s some explosive device? Toys come all tied up to hard to open boxes made of non-recyclable plastic. Most of the food comes packaged and overpackaged. Styrofoam trays and takeout containers are still grinning at us as we stand perplexed trying to figure out whether to put the white foamy material in the recycling box or the garbage bin. Try to imagine this: What if for a month or so everyone in your neighborhood will throw their garbage out in the street instead of of the garbage bin in the backyard? How much would that be? An itty bitty mound of nothing or a considerable sized pile of things that should not be there in the first place. Because you see, garbage trucks come and take it away every week but it only makes it to the landfill. Out of sight is out of mind but it’s not out of our world.

I remember a birthday party that Tony was invited to when he was four. At least 15 kids were invited. The gifts were all wrapped, bows and all, piled on the grass at Jericho beach, waiting to be attended to. And the time came. The wrapping came undone, ripped by impatient tiny hands. Lots of wrapping. The owner of the little hands did not care at all about the fancy wrapping. Why should he? By the time the party ended a couple of garbage bags took the place of the gifts. Everything from gift wrapping to paper plates, plastic cups, forks and dead balloons went into the black bags. The child, merely four, had a gargantuan environmental footprint after just two hours of fun. If you’re trailing back a child’s footprint from the time he/she makes it into the world… Yeah, it’s a tough one.

Not to be a party pooper (though I can hear you say just that), but all I could think was that the kid got robbed after all. And mine with him. How many birthday parties went on that day in Vancouver? See? All of a sudden you wish you did not know how to do math. The big picture stinks all of a sudden, no pun intended. The black garbage bags looked more menacing than an army of hungry crows. Should we not rethink our strategy then? Keep an eye on your garbage output for a week if you don’t believe me. Very few things should go in the garbage bin, yet you might be surprised. Not that you’re lacking good intentions. If there’s no the accommodating triangle of chasing arrows with a number in it then it’s the landfill. Think coffee lids, your kid’s latest toy and its packaging, the good old VHS and audiotapes that you have finally decided to let go off, expired carseats – yes, they have an expiration date and most municipalities do not recycle them, rubber boots and umbrellas, the broken blow dryer and toaster oven, old phone, burnt old Christmas lights, damaged decorations and all the good-for-a-bit-but-useless-overall stuff that came in the kids’ goodie bags along the years… the list goes on and on with no end in sight. Awareness is a relentless beast, isn’t it?

This story has no ending. We’re very far in the game of convenience but I’m willing to give my throwaway habits a makeover. There’s a triangle of chasing arrows here too, I’d say. Stuff we buy –> stuff we use/not use + packaging  –> stuff we throw away. If I’d connect the first and last you’d say I’m being sarcastic. But for the majority of time I’d be just pointing at the obvious. I’m ready then. Care to join?

 

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