Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Garbage , Trash , Waste

   Garbage, Trash, Waste

Modern man always finds a way to sanitize undesirable elements in his life. For example read again the title of this writing,"Garbage, Trash, Waste". When I was young everyone spoke of their unwanted throw aways as garbage. Yes, garbage that guttural sounding word that deeply reflects something very bad. 

To us sixty or seventy years ago garbage fit quite well since what was considered garbage was very little. Out onto the compost pile went ashes, kitchen wastes, dead plants and leaves while into the burn barrel went newspapers, paper bags, just about anything that would burn, though we did bundle magazines and cardboard for the rag man who, by name, took rags too. He came around with some regularity so we knew he was in the area when you heard in the distance, "Rags, Paper", over the din of the day. The rag man also sharpened scissors and knives for a small fee.

I remember garbage dumps all over the place. It seemed farmers, especially those unable to make a living from the land due to sub-marginal soil, were more than willing to allow garbage men for a fee to dump their truck loads into a ravine outback, out of sight. Many of these farmers later became pig farmers when garbage men began hauling slop wastes from restaurants and food processing plants.

Creeks and streams became polluted, then sub-surface waters were affected, the public outcry forced the state governments into action. Garbage dumps were closed down as new facilities became permitted complete with bottom liners and surface water runoff controls.

The heyday of consumerism jumped up complete with a dearth of packaging material which needed to be collected and transported to a dump. About this time garbage became trash in an attempt to sanitize the process in the public's mind. Still the operations were somewhat random in nature, even so, the scale of collection, transportation, and landfilling became bigger than a piecemeal system could handle and a new day arrived.

Many attribute the likes of "Tony Soprano" and his associates for turning trash into waste. Waste became so profitable it needed to become respectable. In my lifetime garbage, to trash, to waste has made a universal transformation from the guttural to that of sophistication whether just in name or in true reality. I hope the latter.

My poem, Destination, talks to the idea of siting landfills out here away from the mega cities which generate enormous amounts of garbage/trash/waste. Do you remember paper blowing off trash trucks on the by-pass hauling the unwanted loads to our local landfills ? Does our future have in store more landfills close around us ? Please be aware.

Ronald C. Downie

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