Out of Sight…

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Trash Train Passing through Pittsburgh

Once a week, I put a bag of trash out at the curb before going to bed.  When I leave for work in the morning, it’s gone.  Poof!

Yesterday, while enjoying the beautiful summer day, the stench of garbage made me look up.  Crossing the railroad bridge, chugged a train full of trash.  I couldn’t see either engine or caboose, only car upon car upon car full of trash.  As I passed under it, smelling the breadth of the aura of stink surrounding the train, my mind imagined all the homes, parks, farms, mountains, forests, and prairies that would be polluted by this rotting mass before it reached its final destination.  A destination that is forever polluted.

I don’t litter.  I recycle when possible (or easy).  I don’t have a newspaper delivered as most of it ends up going straight to my recycle bin, wasting energy and resources.  I try to buy yogurt by the quart instead of single serve to reduce the amount of plastic used.  I plan to compost, one day.  Yet, I had no qualms setting out a bag of garbage every week.

In a corner of my mind, I knew that a truck comes and takes the garbage away to something called a landfill.  And that the garbage will sit there…forever.

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A Storm Drain Treated as a Trash Can

Today, that image of the trash train is causing me to question my behavior.  Is my habit of collecting all my “garbage” in a plastic bag and setting it at my curb for it to find its way to this train and then to a landfill really any better than the person whose habit is to drop their trash on the ground or down a storm drain?  Is a landfill really any better than the Great Pacific Garbage Patch?

Social media is filled with indignation over the trash vortex floating in our ocean, but maybe there should be more discussion and awareness about the rest of our trash: where it goes and what alternatives we have.

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