GARBAGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Yesterday, I got a shipment from Walmart. It was a heavy box, made up of sports drinks — the ones with electrolytes and all that other good stuff in them. I have to drink them. Not that I like them. Nobody likes them. it. It’s not horrible, but it is not delicious, either, no matter what they tell you on television.

I have a low blood sodium issue, so I can’t drink water or fruit juice. I can only have two cups of coffee, which in my world is one very big cup, and after that, I have to drink that goop. If I don’t, my feet and hands cramp up, my gut knots, and eventually, I will die. I don’t know if this is a common thing or not, but I’ve got it and have to deal with it.

The thing is, the bottles came in a crate big enough to carry me, Garry and all the dogs. I know it was heavy, but more than half the crate was full of plastic air bubble packing, which was barely enough to keep the bottles from rolling around.

It took me a long time to cut up the crate. Longer than it did to unpack and store its contents. This is not unusual.

Along the shore – where all the garbage lives

I don’t recycle. Why not?

Because no one has any use for the recycling and the trash people pay to have it taken away. It used to go to India or other parts out there where they still used it, but they too have run out of viable uses, so it basically goes on trucks and lives there, moving from truck to truck, or from womb to tomb as they say in the trash business.

I know this because I wrote a manual for software for recycling hazardous waste. That was more than 10-years ago, so I’m sure the situation has not improved.

There is a mountain, a monsoon of recyclables we’ve created. We are gullible enough to believe by recycling, we are in some way fixing our environment.

We aren’t. We’re just moving trash from here to there and then back again. The problem is not recycling. The problem is there is too much trash and nothing to be done with it. There is no giant hole in the earth where the garbage goes. That’s why so much of it winds up in our lakes, rivers, and oceans, and woods.

As I was cutting up that huge box, I thought: “Why do they do this? Why do they over-package everything? Surely there must be a better way?”

As long as we keep creating more trash than we can ever use, reuse, bury or burn, the world will keep getting dirtier, smellier, and uglier. This is not intended to encourage you to throw trash in the road or woods, but to make you recognize we have not found a solution to the trash problem. If everybody on earth recycled, we’d still have the same mess.


We need to create less mess. 


We need to stop over packaging everything. We need to create and use bio-degradable packaging, so it becomes soil and not more trash. Plastic bottles don’t need to be plastic. There are other substances which will degrade, but they cost more than plastic.

Ultimately, if we want to live in this world and not be up to our hips in our own rubble, we are going to have to pay for the privilege. Everything can’t be delivered in huge containers because that’s the only box someone could find that day. Containers need to be as small as possible for items. Boxes need to be recyclable. Every little thing does not need a big box with a plastic wrapper.


Our gullibility is such that we think recycling is the magic key to getting rid of the monsoon of trash. The truth is, nowhere remains to put the garbage. Nowhere on this earth.


The whole recycling game is how we fool ourselves into believing we’ve found a solution when what we’ve found is another way to move trash around. This may sound like a minor problem until one day, your city or town doesn’t have anyplace to send their trash and you find yourself living in it.

I somehow doubt shooting it out into space is going to work out, either. I have a mental image of our spaceships trying to forge their way through huge rings of trash encircling the earth.

The garbage of space.

Now there’s a sexy sci-fi book for the future!


RDP#62 – MONSOON 

Fandango’s One-Word Challenge: Gullible

STAY AT HOME KIDS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I have a friend who has three daughters, including a set of twins. They are now in their late twenties and early thirties. And they are all back living at home now. I was shocked to hear this.

All three girls have four-year college degrees. All three have full-time jobs. But none can earn enough to live on their own. One of the girls has a one and a half-year-old baby. The mom is no longer with the father, though he is still in the baby’s life. He also works but doesn’t earn enough to contribute to his daughter’s support.

What is going on here? What a tragedy, that middle class, educated working, young people can’t afford to live on their own without their parents’ support. It can’t be good for twenty and thirty-somethings to be living with their parents. It’s infantilizing and demoralizing. There also doesn’t seem to be any prospect for them to move out in the near future. This set up is not necessarily great for the parents either, especially if they want to retire at some point.

Starting wages today don’t seem to be high enough to pay for a home and even minimal living expenses. At least in New England, where I live. And this is even true with a college degree. Part of the problem may be that kids leave college with heavy debts that contribute to their financial dependence on their parents. So, it’s a vicious cycle.

And if you have a baby, the financial situation becomes exponentially worse!

My friend’s daughters are lucky that their parents can afford to support them. And that they didn’t already downsize their home. The kids contribute to the household, but not significantly. What will happen when my friend and her husband want to retire? They probably won’t be able to.

My friend is also lucky that she can work part-time from home. So, with the help of the other girls, they don’t have to pay for daycare or other childcare. This makes a big difference, financially. I know young people who pay a large percentage of their annual income on childcare – just so they can continue to work. This is also a travesty.

I don’t have any earth-shattering insights or solutions to any of these problems. I just got to see first hand what this economy and this society can do to young adults and their retirement age parents.

I’ve read about this phenomenon, but things affect you differently when people you know are involved. I can now put a face on this problem. It’s no longer an abstract issue, but a personal story. I’m shocked, appalled and depressed.

What will happen to whole generations? What will happen to our society? This is our future. And it looks pretty bleak.

RIGHT AS RAIN – Marilyn Armstrong

One of the ways I know I’ve gotten old is when someone goes missing, I’m afraid they are in the hospital or some other catastrophe has befallen them.

I worry about the fragility of the people in my world. My family. Garry. Me. The dogs. Online. Personally. Distant and nearby. To be fair, I also worry about the fragility of our planet, the insanity of our government, the likelihood of catastrophic climate change.

Fires. Dogs. Pretty much everything, come to think about it.

Rusty pickup truck

Almost every day, someone Garry worked with dies. Because he worked on TV, he usually finds out when they announce it on the air. I can see him wince when they announce the name on the local news. Mostly, we don’t go to funerals. There are too many and we’d be going to funerals all the time.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

I remember — probably like 40 years ago? — my mother said, “You know you are getting old when your friends start to die.” And sure enough, that’s exactly what is happening.

While I was pondering this, I realized that there’s another side to this which is (are you ready?) — we might live a really long time. Considering all the crap I’ve already gone through physically, I’m still alive and doing pretty well, all things considered. Garry is amazingly healthy with relatively minor creaks and groans … and both of us come from families that live long lives (but were not necessarily prosperous) …

We could live to 100. Or more.

Oh no! If we are going to live that long, the world better improve a lot. Soon.

I’m pretty sure a very long life might be almost as bad as eternal life — another appalling concept. I mean seriously, how many reruns could I possibly watch?

Meanwhile, we are right as rain. One quick question

Why is rain right?

WHINING AND RESIGNING – Marilyn Armstrong

I’m not going to do it. I want to. I need a good whine. .

Because we all have days like this. The kind of day when by the end of it, you want to resign. Not from blogging, but from the humanity. I want to just throw it all in and hide. Permanently.

Whatever that means. 

Yet I know I will feel better, if not tomorrow, than very soon. At which point, all the whining will just be embarrassing.

Meanwhile, gotta tell ya — there are days when it totally doesn’t pay to get out of bed. Of course, those are exactly the days when you have no choice because there’s so much you need to do. Today is going to be nasty, too.

Today was the kind of day when it feels as if no matter what you do, someone is fighting you. Everything is a battle. Nothing goes smoothly. You get disconnected a dozen times. You’re on the phone forever and in the end, banging your head into the wall sounds like a healthy alternative to everything else you’ve done that day.

But, I am not resigning from humanity. For one thing, I’m not sure to whom I’d hand the resignation. For another, after resigning, what’s next? Can I become one of my dogs?

I guess I’ll hang around.

I’m not going to give you the details. Even thinking about writing it makes me want to scream.