The Sea Gull (A Dream about Garbage)

In a never-ending conversation about recycling, my nephew reminded me “recycling is hardly the answer.  It’s a part of the answer, but consuming less is the ultimate goal.”

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Last night I had a dream I was at The Dump in my father’s Plymouth Gran Fury.

A long, long time ago, there used to be a “dump” on the road to The Farm.  The big-ticket items, like washers and lawn chairs were on the peripheral and piles of smoldering garbage sat in big piles, teetering on the edge of a small hill.  We’d load our paper garbage bags into the car and drive out to The Dump; we’d throw the bags over the hill or on to a smoking pile.  Circling ceaselessly above the piles were sea gulls, swooping down occasionally to grab a loose heel of bread or an old potato.

Back in those days, we didn’t think about whether we were “green” but we also didn’t throw out much either.  We tried to take good care of everything we were given; shoes were re-soled, shirts were mended, and even lawn chairs were repaired until they snapped in two.

In my dump dream, the details were fuzzy, but I was responsible for disposing the leftovers from my co-workers’ take-out food.  They had (once again) ordered soup, salad, and sandwiches from the big box store of artisan breads.  The Plymouth Fury was packed full of shopping bags loaded with Styrofoam dishes, plastic utensils, and big black plastic salad bowls coated with oily dressing.  Slices of bread in wax paper lined the floor of the car and little plastic butter packets were stuck to the dashboard.  It was messy, smelly, and crowded in the Plymouth on that dream ride.

One lone sea gull followed me as I drove down the road.  When I began unloading my bags of Styrofoam and plastic, the sea gull distastefully flew away and perched on the carcass of an old Frigidaire.  Even though there were plenty of food scraps in my garbage, that sea gull would have nothing to do with the plastic.  The crazy sky rat just sat there.  Then it opened its beak and said “I can’t digest it.”

My alarm went off and the dream ended.

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Ben Hewitt, in his book The Town That Food Saved says “’Sustainable,’ like ‘green’ and ‘organic,’ is an easily corruptible concept that, not surprisingly, has been willfully corrupted by people who would very much like to sell you a hybrid SUV or an Energy Star-rated flat-screen TV with no money down and zero percent interest for 60 months.”

All of these things have prompted me to think about my own garbage.  I’ve tried to observe my trash patterns to see what I’m bringing to The Coop dumpster every week.  Since I recycle my food waste in my garden compost pile, the majority of my garbage is primarily plastic and glass bottles with a smattering of paper.  I notice the biggest increase in my garbage production when I’m running low on time and I purchase take-out food.

What is your biggest source of garbage?

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