My wife and I have had some extensive renovations done to our house. I cannot even recount the extent of it but every Sunday night, depending on the garbage pick up schedule, I find myself schlepping out bag after bag, bin after bin of garbage.
I came of age in the seventies, in a time when littering was not only acceptable, it was second nature. We threw bags of McDonalds styrofoam packaging out the car window without a second thought, just like you might see in a television commercial that might make you cringe. We threw our cigarettes into the street, our cans of coke wherever was convenient, our gum wrappers onto the sidewalk as we didn’t break stride.
But these days, we think about garbage differently. When my wife and I can’t decide if something is recyclable, if we decide to toss it, we reconcile the decision with the fact that we didn’t have children. There’s nothing worse for the environment than having children.
Our house is too big for two people. But we have one small car. We eat too much meat but we probably eat less meat than a family of five. We pick our battles.
But as I brought out our trash tonight, I couldn’t help but think that we’re wasters. That impoverished people across the world would value things I put into green garbage bags and was happy just to be rid of.
My wife once flew through Houston and as much as she knows how I dislike George Bush and Texas Republicans, she bought me a Don’t Mess With Texas T-Shirt. I don’t wear it in public because most people wouldn’t understand it but the phrase was created for an environmental/anti-littering campaign. In the early seventies.
As I understand it, litter will outweigh fish in the oceans in our lifetime.
It might really be the most important thing that we will ever have to face. This is what I think of on Sunday nights.