Several weeks ago, I was walking to the bus stop, and I was noticing all the garbage and litter lying around. In the gutter to my left, in the low row of bushes to my right, and in the grass all around. Cans, bottles, wrappers, papers, cups, bags, and endless cigarette butts.
I had been noticing the garbage for days, and it seemed like it was just getting worse and worse. Well, this one particular day, I had just missed one bus, so I knew I had about 15 minutes till the next came by. I took a garbage bag out of my backpack (Yes, I carry a garbage bag in my backpack. You have no idea how useful they can be.) and proceeded to pick up some of the garbage. The larger stuff, at least most of it. Pretty much filled my 13 gallon garbage bag in just a few short minutes. Then I walked a little bit down the street and dropped it all off in a trash can.
On my way back to the bus stop, all I could see was the garbage I had missed. There was quite a bit still in the gutter, and there were still cigarette butts everywhere. I could spend the rest of my life picking up that crap and not make a dent in it. I didn’t do much good as it were. Today I didn’t have to wait for a bus, and I still noticed new bits of garbage lying around, including packaging from a set of headphones someone dropped and left.
A thought popped into my brain somewhere in between the bus stop and work a few days later, as I was noticing yet more garbage next to the sidewalk. One of those bits and pieces of inspiration I’ve written about.
“Look for the grass between the garbage.”
Another take on “look on the bright side”, “every cloud has a silver lining”, and “think positive”.
But there’s a fine line between thinking positive and a delusional refusal to look at the world around you and realize the consequences of your actions. If all we ever saw was the grass, no one at all would think twice about just tossing their trash anywhere they please. And eventually, there would be no grass left and no space between the trash and then where would we be?
But what’s the difference between dropping your garbage on the ground, and throwing it in a trash can? Only one thing. Distance. Out of sight, out of mind. But the garbage doesn’t disappear. It simply gets picked up, compressed with a bunch of other garbage, driven somewhere else, and dropped into a pit with tons and tons of yet more garbage.
Sure, it’s out of our hair. It’s not messing up our scenic view. We just put the garbage in holes in the ground. But I bet before we humans came along and decided that meadow or hill or little valley would be a great place to dig a hole to dump our garbage in it was beautiful. Wildflowers and butterflies, grass and bunny rabbits, trees and deer.
All gone. All so we can dump our stinking, rotting garbage somewhere far away from ourselves, so we don’t have to live in it. So we can forget and deny the impact our lifestyle has on the earth.
Ever watch those shows about hoarders? The people who never throw anything away, and they are living in their own filth and garbage and every broken relic from their all too often broken lives?
Sometimes I think they are the responsible, sane ones, because they are living with the consequences of their actions everyday, while the rest of us forget and deny.
Now, obviously there’s another line here, between living with the consequences of our life and living healthily.
So how do we live healthy lives, and not simply shove our crap to other parts of the planet?
I know! Lets launch our garbage into space and shove it into the sun to get burned up! That won’t hurt anything! Yeah!
Except, we’d simply be shoving our crap even farther away. With even less apparent consequences for our actions, we would end up even more and more wasteful. And let’s look into the future, the far, far future. Assuming we find a cheap way to launch our garbage into the sun, we’d be taking stuff, material, mass from the earth, and sending it away. Slowly, ever so slowly, we’d be making the earth smaller. Far (very far) into the future, we might make the earth smaller enough to cause problems we can’t even imagine right now.
If the earth had less mass, would it orbit the sun faster or slower? If slower, we would sink toward the sun and the atmosphere would heat up. If faster, we would move away from the sun and the atmosphere would cool off, maybe start to freeze.
Would the earth spin any faster or slower? Maybe we would finally have those extra hours in a day we all wish for now and then.
Would the earth’s crust be thinner and weaker enough to cause more earthquakes and volcanic eruptions?
(By the way, anyone that can help answer these questions gets a prize!)
At least now the material we pull out of the earth to make stuff out of will eventually biodegrade and become something the earth can use again. It might take a million or so years, but eventually.
So what other options do we have? Recycling? That can help. If we could do it on a grand scale, literally recycling just about everything, that would be better. Reducing our waste? Yeah, sure. Buy a hybrid car, (Or be like me and don’t own a car at all. Hence, the bus stop.) use reusable shopping bags, every little bit helps, right?
Hate to be a downer, but the human race as a whole is still slowly choking the planet to death.
So what? To save the planet we should just all kill ourselves? Well, that might work, but we don’t have to be that drastic. It’s simple really. We just have to be responsible. We need corporate CEO’s that think beyond the company’s stock value (the dollar), and politicians that think beyond the next election (the dollar), and people (including ourselves) to stop living a materialistic lifestyle. Simple, but not easy. Stuff is fun. Stuff is cool. Stuff is sexy. Stuff is exciting. Stuff is dramatic. People envy people who have stuff, and wish they had their own stuff to call their own. Stuff is addicting. Stuff, stuff, and more stuff. Can’t have enough stuff.
I guess there’s not much for a guy like me to do, except write confusing rants about it online now and then and pick up a few bits of trash here and there so it can be carted off and thrown onto the ground somewhere else.