I drive down our neighborhood streets after dropping the kids off at school and am in awe of trash day. Every Friday, we pull our bins to the curb, and every Friday, it’s a learning experience. Some houses will occasionally have stuffed-to-the-rim bins–you can tell they’ve just tackled a basement or a garage. Other people have clearly moved in or out; large cardboard boxes stacked next to the recycling bins and lots of extra garbage for the week. And there are a few houses–maybe one or two–who constantly, consistently, have trash bins overflowing, week after week after week.
Those are the houses that get me. I’m amazed by the amount of waste generated by an “average” family in an “average” area of an “average” city. I actually wonder how they do it. Do they just have a really big family? Do they not recycle at all? Do they just buy that much stuff? Are they cleaning out years worth of accumulation? (This neighborhood is not that old.) How do they do that?
So there I am, on my high horse, with my family that generates one bag of trash a week (though definitely a full recycling bin every two). I consider it a successful birthday party if we can still throw away one bag of trash on party week; it’s actually something I really work toward. (Silly, I know.) I hate the idea that there are people who are piling on in landfills without a care in the world.
Now we are tearing apart our decrepit deck, and there is a dumpster sitting in our driveway. No more high horse for me. We are about to generate, in two days worth of demolition, more trash that we’ve probably put out in our entire time living here. Now I will take my self-inflated ego, newly punctured and deflated, and admit that yes, we make trash, too. Sometimes, we make lots of it. There comes a time, though, when I have to recognize that something just isn’t usable. It isn’t recyclable, or donatable, or–in this case–even safe. Sometimes, things have to get thrown away. Hopefully, next week, we’ll be back to one bag of trash. But it will take a lot of “one bag” trash days to make up for this morning.