On Taking Out the Trash

This is a piece I wrote this summer — hence the July 4 references ๐Ÿ™‚

“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” 1 Tim 6:6-7

Tonight I took out the trash. Again. As I walked over to the dumpster, preparing to hold my breath, I found myself marvelling at the wide variety of things, and remnants of things, that end up in the trash. There’s the obvious: food scraps, used paper products, the shrapnel of a lightbulb that died serving its country. But sometimes you find less obvious things. My garbage bundle included my first bike helmet — one crash too many, and I didn’t want somebody else at Value Village to risk their noggin. In the few brief moments I had the dumpster lid open, I saw a set of plastic drawers. My friends on facebook posted lots of pictures of the post-July-4 fireworks carnage, strewn across some of our beaches.

Thinking through all this got a little overwhelming. Literally everything in our lives either becomes garbage, or has come into being because other bits of matter became garbage.

Now, let’s get one thing clear: I am an avid recycler and love to repurpose things when I can. Upcycling is one of my favorite words, and not just because it can refer to biking up hills. But, try as we might, we can’t ever get rid of waste entirely.

And I think that’s ok.

Because a pristine ocean means no fireworks, no industry, no anything. No trash means nothing happened. Nobody had any fun, or made anything cool, or had any fun throwing an epic party.

Having to take out the garbage just means people in your life are alive, doing, making, being. And that is as it should be.

I’m not advocating for senseless throwing out of things; I’m just saying that it’s ok we can’t get rid of all trash. Enjoy it for what it represents. Do your best to care for it, and care for our planet. But live your life. Having to take out the trash — well, that just means you’re doing something right. ๐Ÿ™‚


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