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Waiting for the garbage truck (with apologies to Godot)

October 12, 2017

The message arrived on my iPhone. The garbage truck would not be here this morning, you have to wait until tomorrow. Not a big surprise with the amount of stuff we throw out.

Do you ever think about all those items you buy or get Amazon to deliver to your house that need to go back somewhere and that somewhere is either recycling or the garbage dump. However we try, there is a ton of packaging that isn’t going to be staying in your home. It is going to leave at some point. And you are the one that will initiate its final journey.

There was a Danish newscast a few decades ago where someone with a cart of groceries had them rung up through the cashier and instead of bagging the items proceeded to remove the packaging and put the contents in containers they brought with them. Milk, sugar, flour, cereals, coffee, even Kleenex, all removed from their packaging and put into something reusable. There was a huge mound of used card boxes, plastic and paper when they were finished doing this. The store manager, now involved, said they had to take the mound with them. Their answer was “I bought the merchandise, I didn’t buy the packaging.”

That packaging is one of the keys to selling the product. It is the ultimate brand placement, on the product itself. Now after the sale, once at home in your fridge or shelf where will it end up? That’s right — with all the other stuff that can’t be in your home permanently. Wonderful coloured cardboard and plastic containers soon to be homeless.

For the past few decades we had a round plastic garbage can that housed our soon-to-be homeless items. This was built to “use” one of those grocery plastic bags you bring your stuff home in. The problem is it really wasn’t built for the bags, it was too big. There was always the pain of trying to stretch the bag around the container. It worked until some heavy wet garbage undid your valiant stretch attempt. That meant the gloppy trash went directly into the bucket which would need washing. I am sure it was the garbages last attempt to get even.

A store flyer came out showing the garbage receptacle to “replace all receptacles.” For $16.00 this beauty was built for plastic bags and would ease the pain of temporary indoor garbage storage. All in the wonderful antiseptic colour of white and with a lid which was also white. Now the transmission of affald (Danish for garbage) would work easier than an enema (English for disgusting).

Now the garbage men must be pleased when they arrive for pickup. Perfect sized white bags all piled together to fall evenly out into the truck for the last ride home for all this shit. This mess would look decent. And because we now recycle everything — paper, plastic, glass, returnables, and compostables there is no need for weekly garbage pickup. Recycleables every week, garbage pick up every other week. (This keeps the contents fermenting to the highest degree during the summer).

Yes we have arrived at trash nirvana. More recycling than rubble. The packaging we bought now goes back to be used again in some manner. We buy it, we recycle it, then we re-buy it — that is the life of a consumer, always waiting for the garbage truck.

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