Landfills, garbage trucks, dumps, incinerators, recycling centers, waste, sanitation, sewage and rubbish. These words represent a daily and necessary function of our society – trash. In all of its glory, trash is the absolute proof that humans have forgotten how to live like our animal counterparts. Animals of the wild have neither respect nor disrespect for the natural world because they lack the intention to harm or improve the environment. Only humans have the intent and ability to distinguish certain acts or if the species are beneficial or destructive. For instance, compare urban runoff and oil spills in the Mexican Gulf to beach cleanups and Earth Day. The former is labeled as destructive and the latter is beneficial.
This blog post is not meant to say we should live like monkeys nor is my intent to say we should stop protecting the environment and picking up trash from our coasts. I merely aim to bring attention to this daily function – the average American produces 4.6 pounds of trash a day – and how unnatural it truly is. Waste is unnatural because nothing is wasted in nature; every atom is reused on a natural life cycle. Only humans have taken these atoms and created molecules that are unnatural and difficult to reuse and thus created a waste meant for a landfill. And only humans could have the ability to normalize such an alien and perverse idea as trash.
For just a moment, imagine our world without trash. Granted, a world without trash might mean I won’t have a job protecting the environment in the future, but I think it’s a fair exchange to trade my future career for a world where the environment no longer needs to be protected from the danger of trash.