Stream of Waste

I took the garbage out and to the street yesterday evening. It isn’t one of my normal chores. For whatever reason, when setting up our household, it fell into being Denise’s job. Likely something to do with Jake? I don’t remember.

I grew up taking the trash out and to the street. Back before there were wheels on garbage bins and careful control of amounts in the form of OFFICIAL bins. It always was my chore. I remember living in Eugene and separating carefully washed recyclables for what I thought then was an overzealous theory.

But, mostly, I don’t think much about garbage or our contribution. Sure, I read the MNN and Treehugger articles about food waste, landfills, plastic pollution, etc. I think about it in the abstract and think “We need to do more.” I feel a twinge of guilt when I reach for some over packaged something. I grimace as I fill an insulin reservoir and end up with a ton of garbage–wrappers for the reservoir, the insertion kit, the used reservoir and insertion kit, the box for the insulin, the huge wad of instructions, the little plastic cap on the insulin. I cringe as I toss my empty med bottles, and remember I saw something somewhere about how to donate them. (because reusing them in this house is not something we need to do–we’d have enough in one month.)

Back to garbage night and taking it to the street. I did it. Then I came in. I immediately it seemed had one more thing. Oh and another thing. I made two more trips out to the street. Then all through the night, I was intensely conscious of everything I had to throw away. I didn’t want Denise to come home to half full trash cans. That is why I thought about it. More than that–I realized that we don’t have to do this and by changing our habits–from purchasing, to cooking, to simplifying our house and reduce the inevitable garbage and recycling to almost nothing. I certainly have read all the articles. I know it is possible. (at least one of my coworkers has a family of five and only throws out less than one small bag of garbage each week)

I need to act. Me. Not just hope the government or companies or someone makes it too hard for me to toss something in the wastebasket. We can’t keep waiting for supermarkets to reduce packaging and force us to use reusable. We need to do it ourselves. For us, for our children and grandchildren, for the sea birds and diversity of species.


  1. Great point that you’re making. I’m totally with you. In Germany people just leave most of the packaging in the supermarket which has made companies look at their packaging and I feel it has reduced. I have seen people starting to leave their packaging such as frozen pizza boxes behind here in Britain too, that is in Lidl and Aldi though, both of which are German. But it definitely is a start I think.

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