One Man's gonna send me right over the edge one of these days

OK,  people.  Let’s talk trash, shall we?

It’s confusing, I guess.  I mean, I don’t find it all that confusing, but some of us clearly do.  But fear not.  Mama is here to be helpful and provide some clarification.

I know you want to ask me: what is garbage?  Which things aren't garbage?  Where should it go when it is determined to be garbage?  Where should it not go?  Where do things that are not garbage go?

Complicated stuff.

And I'm thinking that it may not just be happening in Evanston.  It may be happening in other places, too, this confusion.  So let’s everyone listen in and we'll all agree to forward this garbage lesson to anyone who might need a refresher course.

First of all, let’s define garbage.  Now, I want you to know that I am typically not judgey.  I mean, I do like to determine what is garbage and separate it from what is recyclable.  I have two different receptacles in my home for this purpose.  But I’m not fanatical.  For instance, I can’t seem to recycle peanut butter jars because I can’t get them clean enough for the condo’s recycling containers.  Wet peanut butter is SO nasty, you guys.  I can’t do it.  So, see?  I’m not freaky about it.  I’m not unreasonable.

So, garbage is stuff that can’t be used again or recycled.  Like the waxy paper wrappers off your Drumstick ice cream cones.  And maybe the plastic net bags that Cuties come in (though you can totally use those on your balcony railing so your sugar snap peas have something to hold on to.)  And Happy Meal toys.  That’s garbage. That goes in a garbage can.

Plastics and paper and aluminum and glass?  Those can all be recycled.  We should totally do that.

Now, this...THIS is a lifeguard chair.

Lifeguard chair

It is neither a garbage can nor a recycling center.  Yet this is what the lifeguard chair looks like on the beach where my children play most of the freakin time.  It IS NOT a garbage can, you guys.  Seriously.

This here is a little more tricky.  Let's see if you can spot the problem.

full garbage

Now, this IS indeed a garbage can.  But, see, it’s full.  It’s really quite full.  You can almost tell just by looking at it.  So you shouldn’t put your garbage in it.  And you CERTAINLY shouldn't be putting your recyclables in it.  I know you feel frustrated by its inability to function in the way you’d like it to.  I know you feel entitled to dispose of your trash here.  But, you know, this one is full.

This one here is pretty much empty.  It’s ready to accept your garbage.

empty can

It was located only about 30 yards from the full trash can.  I am almost certain that if I can carry my garbage to this can, you can as well.  So let’s do that from now on.  And I'm not just talking about this specific can on Lighthouse Beach in Evanston, IL.  I'm talking about your garbage and your full and empty cans in your town of wherever.  You know that, right?

Now, some stuff is simply not garbage.  Garbage is something that CAN’T be used anymore – not something that YOU don’t WANT to use anymore.  See the difference?

If you throw out a whole bunch of perfectly good board games, even though you know that there is a family with children living two floors up, I will rescue those board games and keep them.  And when I open up the Boggle box and discover that your grandson stashed all his collectable sports cards from the early 70’s in there,  I’m gonna keep them.  And I’m gonna price them on the internet.  I’ve only looked up the value of about 5 of them so far and I’m already about $30 up.

Dumpter stuff

I’m generally not a Finders Keepers kinda gal.  I am the type of gal who will drive back to your store and give you the $2 extra in change you accidentally gave me.  I've always been proud of that.  But, damn it, if you are going to throw out dumpsters and dumpsters of perfectly usable stuff, I am damn sure keeping the collector cards I rescued.  That 1975 Bobby Orr card alone is worth at least $20.

Oh, and thanks for the new patio furniture.  It’s really nice.  I'm glad I got to it before the storm.


It goes well with the plant pots that are WAY nicer than the plastic ones I bought at Walmart but I’m having a hard time getting the dumpster stench out of those so they might have to go back.

I also took your luggage set and drove it over to the Goodwill.  I called you some names on the way over.  They were rough but, I think, pretty fair.

Look, people.  I understand that we all feel entitled to have whatever we want when we want it and then throw it away when we're done.  I know it’s a drag to think about where that stuff actually goes after it leaves our garbage area.  It’s so pleasant to have it just go away, isn't it?  But it isn’t just going away.  It remains on the planet.  It’s entering the waste stream.  And some day there won’t be any room for it.  And some day, the chemicals from all of these broken down products will poison us.

And, to be perfectly honest, that day has already come.

And I have kids.

And they play on that beach.

And they have another 70 or 80 or 90 years left on this planet, I hope.

And they totally like board games, damn it.
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