Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Washing Garbage

When I was kid, now admittedly that was a long time ago, I used to open a can, dump out it's contents and throw the can in the garbage. The can, after all, was just a container whose purpose had already been served. So it was open, dump and throw. Back then, microwave ovens hadn't been invented and most people cooked their meals from fresh meat, fish, fowl and vegetables which don't really generate a lot of waste. Meat came from the butcher wrapped in paper and veggies came in whatever natural wrapper God gave them. Potato peels, apple cores watermelon rinds and corn husks all got thrown on the compost heap, which did what compost heaps do, and ultimately furnished rich loamy soil to feed the garden.

Then we got more sophisticated and dinner now comes pre-cooked and pre-packaged to make things more convenient and consequently produces a lot more non usable garbage that we're quickly running out of places to store. The empty plastic and foil containers can't be composted, so now we need to recycle them. Of course gone are the days when you can open, use, and throw. Now after use, the empty container has to be stored for weeks and if you live in a townhouse like I do, there is no room anywhere to store enormous garbage, recyclable, and organic waste bins. There is barely enough room in the garage for the car, let alone these huge bins and smaller bins won't hold weeks worth of garbage. So that means they need to be stored in the house, the only remaining space. To avoid the stench of rotting garbage we have to carefully wash all of these containers before storing them.

This week again I marvel at how far we've come as I wash out cans, bottles and tubs, literally washing garbage before I pitch it out.

I'm all for protecting the environment, but I wonder if governments were really sincere about reducing waste if they couldn't find some way to reduce the garbage at the source. You know what I mean. Every time you bring something home from the store it's wrapped up like a mummy. Component parts are wrapped in plastic bags and then fitted inside protective styrofoam blocks with cardboard spacers holding things in place inside the cardboard box, which is inside shrink seal cellophane. Overkill much?!!??

A long time ago, when a lot of the jobs went overseas because of the cheaper work force, one of the ways a manufacturer could still claim the product Canadian made was if a certain percentage of the product was made here. In practice, that meant that it could be identified as Canadian, even if the only thing Canadian was the packaging, as long as the Canadian content dollar wise, met the threshold. Guess where some of the excess packaging started coming in?

In all fairness, since most of the manufacturing jobs have gone overseas, the products that we use every day have to come back from overseas to be sold here and in all that travel you don't want something like a large TV to get a hole poked in it just because it wasn't sufficiently protected.  But somewhere, somehow, there has to be a happy balance.

In the interim, I'm stuck here, washing garbage.