Let’s do some trash talking.
How do four bags of groceries turn into six bags of trash?
Let’s do some trash talking.
How do four bags of groceries turn into six bags of trash? The laws of physics don’t seem to apply. I know that the empty cereal boxes and cracker containers do not contract even though their contents have been consumed. Similarly, cans and bottles also retain their physical dimensions. But what about the cellophane-wrapped goods like bread, which disappears and leaves only .0001 of an inch of cellophane? Doesn’t that help reduce the physical size of the trash? Surely, there must be some simple explanation for the imbalance in my kitchen import-export ratio.
I am painfully aware of this discrepancy when I take my usual truckload of trash to the recycling station, aka the dump. The rules of recycling are very specific: Protons in this bin, electrons in that one. Neutrons can be deposited in the Dumpster, but they cannot be bundled or tied with string. But, seriously, one can spend 20 minutes walking from barrel to bin along recyclables row separating green glass from brown glass.
Also, many of the recyclers I see when the transfer station opens at 7 a.m. on a Saturday all sport gray hair. Why are these guys there so early? Is it because “sleeping in” for a baby boomer means not getting out of bed until 5:30? I seem to fit right in with the boomers in their tennis shoes and blue jeans. Soon, I’ll be watching “Matlock” reruns and calling those 800 numbers to buy the 21-CD set of music from the 1960s. (Why do 90 percent of the TV offers have an Atlanta address?)
Next Saturday I’m thinking of wearing a pair of straight-legged tapered jeans with a golf shirt and a corduroy sports jacket and high stepping in a pair of moccasins tied with rawhide. No one would notice because they are trapped like trilobites in amber in their own “Jurassic Park” of fashion.
Unlike the other boomers at the dump, however, I can still back my truck up without using the side mirrors. I’m very proud of my mobility and happy that I can swing an arm over the passenger seat, look over my right shoulder and guide my truck into the grass and branches area without requiring signalmen or rear-deck TV camera.
But back to the bulk. About 30 years ago, trash compactors were all the rage. I don’t know why that brilliant idea turned to compost but I suspect safety may have been an issue. Crushing cans and plastic containers that split into sharp shards was a problem for some of the early compactors. And contrary to the early doctrine of Earth Day, compactors were used to squash objects that should have been recycled. Many people were tossing paper, rock, and scissors in their compactors and creating one congealed mega-mass.
Now, the recycling areas have railroad car sized dumpster-compactors that could crush a limousine into a 3-foot cube. But if you were to follow the instructions for these, the only things you would throw into them would be lettuce and other garden greens. Everything else is recyclable.
None if this helps me with my Big Bang universe of trash. I guess I should take the time and cut up all the cardboard boxes, flatten the cans and recycle everything including dust. Then, I could turn on the “Matlock” marathon.
Peter Costa is a senior editor with Community Newspaper Company. His book, “CostaLiving: Laughing through Life,” a collection of his humor columns, is available at amazon.com and at Barnes & Noble bookstores.