Tuesday, January 7, 2014

One resolution worth keeping

     I weave in and out of garbage truck stops like I am playing bumper cars all the way to downtown Rochester. That’s when a light bulb (LED, of course) goes on in my head.
     If you are expecting me to rant and rave about weight loss, exercise and healthy living for the New Year, you are so wrong.
     There are way too many other world issues that need attention.   Take our “throw away” mentality, for example.
     I will strive to live a little “greener” and be more conscious of disposing items in 2014.
     Other than that, I eliminate from my head any notion of making and keeping resolutions. Flimsy resolutions never last —I get the short end of the measuring stick and cave in after two or three days anyhow.
     Tuesdays must be garbage pick-up day in every county in the region. All fall I entertain myself with this ingenious mind game passing the one-hour commuting time to the city. I watch the sanitation engineers and observe how each one has their own style of working smarter and faster. (I should put their efficient practices to shoveling snow me thinks.)
     Our population has tons and tons of matter to throw away sorted into trash and recycling bins. Garbage piles don’t discriminate between a small rural village and a City of Rochester commercial street. It is overwhelming. People create a lot of trash thanks to plastic, catalogs and junk mail. No wonder our landfills are bulging to capacity.
     Americans do a better job at accumulating and getting tired of things faster than any other time in our history. Nothing lasts for long with us, and a newer model speaks clearly wanting to come into our possession. We throw out the old for the new with a mere snap of the texting finger.
     That’s not even counting all the “free” items on lawns waiting to be re-claimed creatively by new owners. I call it “vintage repurposing.” It gives new life to old items in unexpected ways. College kids do chic decorating from curbside hauls, and collectors find the perfect 70’s lamp or coffee table that fits in with their décor. Artists are another group that make creations from scrap.
     On my trip to Rochester I count five couches in five different styles and colors waiting to be retrieved along with a broken desk, treadmill (of course, there has to be gym equipment) grill, tent and assorted kitchen cabinets. I am not mentioning all the cars parked at the edges of driveways for sale. (Now I understand why mine has no buyer what with all the other choices.)
     I know someone who brags that she does a thorough cleaning out job every six months including toys. (I hope her kids hide their collectibles from mom, if they have ever learned the joy of appreciating old items in the first place.) Sure, the house is sterile, and unfortunately, there is room to haul in more stuff like clockwork.
     Between Christmas holidays and the New Year’s the garage piles up higher and higher with wrapping paper (You do save what you can, don’t you?) and boxes.
   What hurts me is seeing loose plastic bags caught in trees and bushes. It is a horrible example of what life is about. It speaks to folks not getting real about the environment, and making more of an effort to use cloth bags shopping.
      Go to a business in another country and you are expected to bring your own containers. You must ask to buy a plastic bag it some cases. I suppose it will change in time, too, as the mega-American mentality sifts in.
     “Dumpster diving” (You can find a YouTube video on “how to” if you so desire) and “scrounge hounding” at the recycle center are ways of necessity for certain folks, and a hobby for a few others that are socially conscious. Each salvaged piece comes with its history that can only be imagined.
     At my recycling center I dare say I can pick up a month’s worth of magazine reading. It would be better to drop appropriate magazines off to a hospital, senior center or church as a re-gift.
     Lazy littering along the highways and back roads is a horrible offense. I am appalled at the beer cans and fast food wrappers up and down my road. As best as I am able—I’ve gone down into a gully or two at my own risk— I retrieve bottle and cans from someone else’s carelessness. Life must not be precious for people as temporary stewards of earth.      
    When an entire bag of trash is tossed on our edge of the woods in a gully, I am outraged at the lack of respect for our earth.
    My mother saves bits of string and wax paper to reuse. Her generation has a different attitude about desires in relation to needs. Remaking clothes to fit a younger child and putting new soles on shoes are part of normal living. Perhaps, the bankroll under the bed keeps grandma secure without plastic credit cards for meeting her every whim.
     I am going to do my small part on the planet. It won’t always be easy, and I am sure that I will fall back into my old ways periodically.
     May my trips to the landfill be less frequent, and my garbage pile more manageable in 2014. Happy New Year.