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The Struggle to Stop Being So Trashy

April 28, 2018

Joining in the zero-waste bandwagon because trashy is not sexy.



When I was 14, I was afflicted with a very unfortunate obsession that would trail after me into adulthood. 


It all started when I saw a poster hanging on the wall of my classroom. It featured a young mother nursing her newborn baby on a garden bench, except, instead of being surrounded by trees or the lake, they were all but buried under mountains of trash.


I couldn't find the original image - it has been more than a decade after all - so here's the next best thing.

Imagine a mother and a baby on a park bench surrounded by this.



My 14-year-old thought: “Ewwww.”


If only it had stopped there. But no, I continued to think about that imagery, even when I went home, even when I graduated years later, and even now, as I type this.


When the movie Wall-E came out, I felt like Pixar had read my very soul, had seen the thoughts that whirl in my head and had translated the nightmares of my sleep onto the big screen.


No, not the robot-to-robot love (nothing wrong with that), but the trash. ALL THE TRASH that rendered the planet inhabitable.



 The world Wall-E lives in. Source


Oh, and the fat lumps of flesh being chauffeured around in individual pods wearing horrendous red suits, i.e. humans. 


Lazy. Obese. Addicted to screens. Seems familiar. All we're missing is the individual pods. Source



If anything, Wall-E only intensified my sensitivity to trash. 


Before, I was only obsessed over recycling, mildly annoying my friends with my rallying cry to “RECYCLE EVERYTHING!!!”


Now, my obsession has extended towards all trash and waste related matters. I no longer want to recycle the waste I produce, because recycling can no longer keep up with the diarrhoea of trash spewing out of us.


What I I want is to stop producing trash to begin with. 



Life with waste


I’m a bit of an unrealistic optimist, but even I wouldn’t have believed it if someone had told me that it was possible to not produce trash. After all, almost every little thing we do results in something being thrown away:


  • the wrapper of the ice cream or candy bar we ate

  • the plastic bottle of water we drained under the hot sun

  • the container from the fast food we grabbed for lunch

  • The receipt from our latest purchase

  • the ten bajillion plastic wrap that our online order came delivered in, in case a rabid rhinoceros stomped on it during transit


Waste is such an ingrained part of our daily life that it’s hard to imagine life without it. I mean, imagine! Life without stinky trash cans, life without litter blowing all over the roadside, life without a garbage truck rumbling away to dump all our crap in front of some unfortunate person’s home (as long as it’s not our home)!


We can’t imagine it. We get angry when the municipality doesn’t provide enough trash cans, which justifies us throwing our trash on the streets. We get positively livid when the garbage truck missed one pick-up day, because how dare they leave us with all the waste that came from our own selves!


How dare they not pick up my trash!