Will we be remembered for our waste?

Out of sight, out of mind – right? Wrong.

My parents’ house was built about 90 years ago, and probably a hundred years before that, the back corner of our yard was used as a midden or junk pile.

When I was growing up, my dad would dig in the garden and find items that people tossed away in the 1800s. A fork. A piece of a leather dog collar with the buckle still attached. Glass tincture bottles. Nearly two hundred years later, the items weren’t in perfect condition, but they were still recognizable. Some were even useful.

The people who lived on my parents’ land might have thought that they were getting rid of their unwanted items, but they weren’t. They were safely storing them for us to find later.

That’s what we are doing with our waste today – storing it for later. Yet, my family didn’t need that fork, or that bottle, or that dog collar. And today we throw away not just glass, metal and leather; we throw away plastic too, and our trash is exponentially greater than in the 1800s. It doesn’t break down quickly enough to be considered ‘gone.’ It doesn’t disappear once it is buried. The people who might find it in the future won’t have use for it either.

I remember the people who lived on my parents’ land based on their garbage; the things that they threw away. Let’s not be remembered for our waste.

 

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