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!


Fandango’s One-Word Challenge: Gullible

Categories: #FOWC, Daily Prompt, Photography

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

34 replies

  1. Man is the only animal that creates garbage. (That I know of anyway?)
    Not much of an achievement for us superior beings.


  2. I’ve tried some of those sports drinks. They don’t taste great, do they?

    Recycling here is actually at quite a high percentage I think. It gets collected by the council every fortnight and goes to big plants (which do appear to actually recycle most of it!). That, coupled with the Europe-wide programme to reduce plastic (bags, bottles, drinking straws etc) will hopefully keep the rubbish mountain at bay for a while…


  3. We have the same dump deal as fandango. a fairly rigorous single stream recycling thing, and landfill, and if it’s construction stuff, you pay to get rid of it. There is a place not far from here that once or twice a year takes the toxic stuff–old paint, varnish, chemical stuff, and the line of people getting rid of this stuff is incredible. It’s also nice to see that many people involved.

    We also have woodstoves, so if it’s even faintly burnable, that’s where it goes. I have a garden and a compost heap. Same deal. If it will rot, or turn into compost, in it goes. I save cardboard, cool boxes (oh I’d have loved that one you had), bits of this and bits of that, because someday we just might need it. Some days we do.


    • I kept a room full of boxes for YEARS. Then, one day, I needed a guest room and it was fully of empty boxes. Cool boxes from computers and cameras and lenses, not to mention manuals for applications that no longer exist … and two computers no one used.

      I got rid of it all because there was nothing else I could do with it. The cardboard will, at least, eventually dissolve because it really IS paper, but the plastic is the real bottom line issue. There aren’t enough places on earth that can use the amount of plastic we’ve got. We sell it, or more often, pay to have other people take it away and then, they pass it along. With the best will in the world, there are not nearly enough practical uses for recycling. That you have a viable dump is great because we don’t have anymore and there are only two left in the valley which aren’t full. ALL the trash collectors have to sell the recyclables and it goes onto trucks and rides around forever. Or gets dumped into the ocean or a river. Or a woods. Which is illegal, of course.

      I spent close to a decade working on this stuff. I’m not making it up and if you have a down to earth conversation with any of the trash owners, they will tell you the same thing.

      Recycling is better than nothing, but unless we make some significant progress in having less trash overall, we’re kind of screwed. You are in a rural area, relatively speaking … and still, look at the pressure on your resources. Now think about bigger cities. Everywhere.



  4. Where I live we have three bins: recycling, compost, and trash (landfill). There are very few things that are permitted in the trash, so most of what I discard is recycling and compostable stuff.


  5. This boggles the mind and even if we were more careful about slowing the rate of trash build up we would only be doing that.., i.e. prolonging the inevitable. I am fanatical about recycling and will not put a dirty piece of recyclable material in the bin. I will remove and wash any foodstuff from those items in an attempt to make the job of the sorters easier. Now I’m beginning to see that the process is way behind what’s needed to keep up. We are in deep poo, poo (no pun intended).


    • Yes, we are. And despite our best efforts, there’s no place for the trash, recyclable or not, to go. This has been true for quite a while, but no one wants to see it. Unfortunately, shutting your eyes and pretending has NEVER worked well.


  6. What I take instead of heavy drinks with chemicals in: They taste decent in water or juice, help me not to shrivel up and die, and are very lightweight. I buy them at the local co-op, and have seen them in health stores etc. They also sell them online.


    • I saved the site. That sounds good. Also cheaper and no more plastic bottles!

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s what I thought. We buy the boxes for something like $20.00 for 30 servings, and I have them with hot water pretty often, or coldish, or with cherry juice splashed in there, and other things like probiotics or herbal anti-inflammatories. It makes a huge difference in my basic overall health and capabilities, plus they don’t taste bad. If you can’t get them from that site, email me and I’ll send you some.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Always comes back to the almighty $. Who stands to benefit from the continued use of plastic??? and who loses $ if you use something biodegradable. I’m very pessimistic on this because $ always talks!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. eat less, less trash, eat less, less overweight, eat less, eat less, more time for something else, eat less, less thrash, thanks for the post Marilyn


  9. There is enough garbage in space already. Since I have the nightview app I see mainly rocket bodies, circling around up there, some from the seventies and they will never decompose.


  10. Ha! I’m usually the cynical one, and recycling was not something that was ever on my radar to be cynical about…

    My employer, the same company that sent you the sports drinks, has us go through an awful lot of trouble to recycle as much of our waste as it can. That, coupled with all the garbage we sell that brags about being made from XX% recycled materials, is enough to make me believe recycling’s not a total waste. I’m sure we generate more recycling than the processing plants bother to handle, but I don’t think it’s a completely wasteful endeavor…. otherwise, Mecca (which I think would be in THE KNOW) would have use doing more important tasks for its bottom line. I’m talking paper and plastic and other common consumer recycling… hazmat waste is a completely different matter, and I know what the companies around here do with that stuff (And why nobody except me wants to drink our water)….

    As for excessive packaging……. well, given the fragility of many items combined with the rigors of shipping, sadly, there really isn’t such a thing. Liquids in plastic bottles, in particular, leak a lot easier than one might think… especially since it doesn’t take much of a jolt to break the caps. When I order sno cone syrup, it gets sent in a box three times the size of the bottles loaded with styrofoam peanuts….

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s not a solution. It’s better than nothing, insofar as it works, but the places that USED to take recycling are full. Everyone used to send this stuff overseas to places like India where they still had room for it, but there’ so much of it. I am glad they are trying their best, but we really do need a better solution. There isn’t enough we can do with the material and people don’t like paying MORE for recycled stuff than they do for new stuff.

      I spent years working at the Environmental Health Laboratory of the University of Jerusalem and waste/trash/garbage, as well as air pollution, insecticides poisoning the earth and water. Trash and poison were our issues.

      There IS no simple solution. We thought recycling would do the job, but because the volume of material that needs recycling keeps climbing, there is no way to keep up with it. The best will in the world isn’t going to make that the solution we need — unless places like Walmart and Amazon and other big sellers start to not only recycle but actually build their OWN plants and USE the materials. If more recycled stuff hit the market and people were more accustomed to buying and using it, that would probably help some.

      EVERYONE needs to use less packaging. Walmart isn’t by any means the worst. Amazon is worse. Bottles need to be made from a material that will disintegrate without recycling. The stuff exists, but it costs more than a plastic bottle and now that every package of bottles is held together by another “holder” of more plastic, it’s double trouble. And that’s the other thing. Walmart sells products that other people make. They have no control over how a product is packaged. They can deal with it for their own waste, but there’s so much more. All that OTHER stuff.

      Recycling would matter more if there were less of it to be done. We need less of everything. A LOT less. If we keep generating an infinite amount of trash, ultimately we will sink under the weight of our own garbage.


      • The fact is that by the time we, as a society, realized we had a problem, it was already over our heads. No one thought it was as big as it is. Part of our problem is that, while in the frenzy of making money, those corporations involved seldom anticipate these disasters and as a result, are caught with their pants down. Of course, passing the solution onto other parties is often the tack taken, which then delays any solution and the problem continues, getting worse by the minute. Unfortunately, all we see is the benefits of said products and turn a blind eye once that plastic bottle is tossed. It’s called “passing the buck” and we’re all guilty of it. Now we’ve got a President who is actually encouraging it.

        Are you sure the rich don’t have a secret rocket ship aimed at another inhabitable planet once the trashing of this one is complete?


        • That’s true. It was already way out of hand by the time we were growing up, but we didn’t know it. I learned about it early because I worked for years at the University of Jerusalem’s Environmental Health laboratory … but most people didn’t get it until at least a decade later. We’ve been building this mess for a couple of hundred years and I don’t know why everyone thinks we can fix it with the snap of our fingers. We didn’t create it with a snap, either and we didn’t do it alone. This is — more than anything — a corporate horror.

          I sure hope we DON’T have another planet. We don’t deserve one.


  11. I really think we have to get back to paper and glass. They are really recyclable. It’s terrible what all that plastic is doing.

    Liked by 1 person


  1. IN THE SPIRIT OF DOING WHAT EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING … Marilyn Armstrong | Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth

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