Tuesday, May 28, 2013

hot potato, or whose trash is it anyway?

Since writing the return of the cheeto and "the story of stuff," I've continued to think about our trash. While I know I've done a lot to reduce our output, it doesn't feel adequate. Like stink bugs, invasive weeds, or the mold in my shower (darnit!), I just cannot put an end to the appearance of trash.

In addition to my own unavoidable trash production, people keep giving me trash: retailers who insist I need a plastic bag to carry one teeny pack of hair ties, the pharmacist who insists on printing out pages of instructions for the medication I've taken for years, the dentist who sends each of my family members home with their own teeny sample of toothpaste sealed needlessly up in a heavy duty zip lock envelope.

I keep trying to give it back, but once bestowed, no one wants to accept a return. We push the offending item back and forth between us like a hot potato - exactly whose trash will it be when the music stops?

And if I manage to refuse a plastic bag only to have the clerk shove the crumpled thing in the trash as I whisk myself victoriously out the door, have I really accomplished anything?

One piece of trash that unmistakably belongs to me: the refrigerator that's been sitting on my carport for a month (yes, we're turning into one of those families).

Actually, between that last paragraph and this one, I figured out that my county has a recycling center for appliances, including refrigerators, so wew! that's one big fat hot potato I get to pass happily on around the circle!

I mean, what if it's not our lives that flash before our eyes when we die, but our trash!? Imagine: instead of a guilt-inducing playback of that time when you refused to apologize for knocking the neighbor-kid off his bike, you see images of the things you threw away: all those take-out food containers from the nights you were too lazy to cook, the potato chip bags you didn't know what to do with, the cellophane encased junk mail, the dental floss, and the many pieces of plastic crap that seem to follow your kids home like flies on poo. I'm telling you, I am so happy not to have a refrigerator on my conscience too.

With that in mind, I have to ask you, what the heck do I do with this?

perhaps i could mount it in my yard and pretend it's a bit of sculpture.
in an ominous statement about kitchenware and the environment,
I could call it "heat on Tupperware bowl"

The problem of what to do with this bowl only raises another question: why haven't I gotten rid of all the plastic in my kitchen?

Really, that's the subject of another post (that I promise to get to eventually), but in the meantime, getting rid of plastic in the kitchen still brings us back to trash. When we rid our kitchens of plastic, where do we send it all? Some of it is recyclable, and other stuff we can put to non-food uses. If you're me, however, much of it remains in the drawer because you're lazy and it doesn't fit neatly into either of those two previous categories.

When you leave stuff in the drawer, I can tell you, it ends up getting used. 

While making popcorn this week, Olivia inadvertently set this bowl on the hot cook top, creating a fascinating and dangerous looking puddle of goo.

Still, there's lots of good news: Olivia didn't tar and feather herself with the melted muck; the house didn't burn down in a toxic cloud of plastic infused vapor; I managed to scrape the gummy stuff off the stove while it was still warm; this very handy, but very plastic bowl no longer tempts me to mix that too-big potato salad in it, and last, I feel motivated to finally eliminate the rest of the plastic from my kitchen.

But now, now I have this useless hunk of molded and polymerized petroleum on my hands. Will this be one of the pieces of trash to flash before my eyes at my death? How the heck did I end up with this hot potato?

To dispose of it, I checked with Tupperware and discovered that they accept old stuff for recycling. They also claim that recycling one ton of plastic could save 600-800kg of crude oil. It sounds good, but I can't help but wonder if sending it back simply feeds the plastic producing beast. They say they'll grind it up and use it for plant pots, garbage bags and low-grade pipe--not the kind of stuff I'd particularly like to see in greater abundance.

If I send my trash to a place that makes more trash, have I really unloaded the spud?

I don't know, so I think I'll hold onto my "bowl" a while longer.  I've at least learned that when deciding where to pass my potatoes in this game of accountability & responsibility, I should look beyond the music to consider who has come to play.

Meanwhile, if you have a suggested use for "heat on Tupperware bowl," or if you'd like to display this lovely sculpture in your yard, please let me know!

Speaking of trash, if you're an email subscriber and you received a weird jumbled post from me in your box today, I'm sorry! That's what happens when you let your mouse hover over "publish" while still brainstorming an idea. egad.


  1. Hmmm....it looks sort of like a giant eye ball. If you still have it, it would make a great Halloween decoration, lol. You could turn something into a giant cyclops!

    1. I do still have it! It's sitting on my blanket chest in my bedroom because I don't know what to do with it. Leave it to you to suggest I do a CRAFT!! But you are right, it does look like a giant eyeball. My kids always complain about my lack of typical Halloween decorations (too much plastic crap!), maybe I could put this on a scarecrow! I will think and think about that and hope it turns into action! :)