One Sunday late last fall, the Saturday night revelers deposited an unusually large number of roadside items including: cellophane from a Hot Hands Toe Warmers package, beer containers (one each) of the 8 oz., 12 oz., and 24 oz. varieties, and a cigarette pack. Fritz dragged up a well-gnawed deer backbone as his contribution. These were all things folks had thrown…away.
Long ago this same relatively secluded stretch of road acquired a reputation as a place to get rid of old tires, mattresses, building materials and the like by tossing them into the adjoining woods and driving away. This practice continued until our frustrated neighbor posted “No Dumping Allowed” signs along the road. It apparently hadn’t dawned on the perpetrators that getting rubbish out of their sight didn’t actually eliminate the rubbish; it was still somewhere. Perhaps Saturday night revelers have a hard time reading the signs as they whiz past in a beery blur, so out the window they continue to throw their trash…away.
Just where is this mythical “away”? One person’s “away” is another’s backyard. Bravo! to folks who reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle. Nevertheless, all but the very most conscientious of us still have a bunch of stuff we simply set out once a week for the sanitation workers to take to that magical “away” place.
Scientists tell us we’re entering a new geologic epoch, the Anthropocene, or the human epoch. Epochs are marked by earth-shaking events like the retreat of the ice age. Humankind’s impact is creating a new, less ecologically balanced epoch partly because of all the stuff we produce and then eventually throw …away.
But we’re savvy enough to know that we can’t endlessly foul our nest and expect to thrive. We can all be more thoughtful about the quantity of stuff we accumulate and then how we ultimately dispose of it. We’re wise enough to know there really is no “away.” “Away” is right here on our only home where we’re forever…Earthbound.”