The Richmond Review, Wednesday, May 6, 1981


by Graeme Elliott


It was kind of fun while it lasted, but it is all over now. Hard times they were, but good times too. My Dear Lady and I squashing cans underfoot, jumping about like simple peasants crushing grapes. Burning combustibles. Washing out the milk bags, to prevent them from stinking up our little dump.
They were hard times, but they brought us closer together. Toe-to-toe, sometimes.
But try as we did, still it accumulated. We battled with the green bags, while others battled over greenbacks.
Now, victory!
We outwaited the politicians and their hired guns, amassing only five bags (no record, but it was my first time) of garbage on the back porch, while they spewed tons of it into the airwaves and into the presses.
Not once did we succumb to the temptation to dump it onto a private contractor's garbage container, leave it on the doorstep of municipal hall (though the thought occurred, often), or drop it off at public parks. Or at private parks.
We held fast. We won.
The funny thing I noticed about the garbage, other than the smell, is how much I pay for it. Not in taxes to have it hauled away, but in stores, to purchase it in the first place.
"Packaging" it is called, but it is all garbage to me.
Examples? You want examples, go to the nearest supermarket.
There are things like 'cereals,' a loose term for sugar-impregnated, aerated wheat; they come in brightly- coloured boxes, often with a wax-paper bag inside. Garbage within, garbage without.
Or, there are individual servings of pre-cooked, ready-to-eat rice or tapioca puddings, in a tiny aluminum bowl, all dressed up in a brightly-coloured cardboard holder.
You buy it, take it home, and then throw away the holder.c If you are smart, you also throw away the pudding, and you have a nice aluminum bowl, which could serve some useful purpose. Most people throw it away, too.
Individual cheese slices. Chewing gum, each stick wrapped in foil, then in paper, all contained in a foil and plastic sheath.
All garbage. All destined for the green plastic bag on the curbside and the miracle of once-a-week disappearance.
It costs to buy in the first place, and dispose ot in the last place. It costs so much that both garbage production (or packaging) and garbage removal are multi-billion dollar businesses in North America.
It is big business. Big business is out to make a profit.
The last straw is the thought that after I have shelled out to buy the trash, and to have it hauled away, someone could be extracting a profit from the lucre of filth.
Glad to have you back, CUPE. If anyone is going to profit from the debris of modern living, it may as well be your people, who at least will throw most of the taxes-cum-wages back into the local economy, to buy more garbage.
Now, how about mowing the grass in Brighouse Park. Shave Brighouse Park, so there is something to save. And fix the traffic light at Garden City and Alderbridge, so I can safely get home at night, and how about filling in this pothole on Bridgeport, and...

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Last updated: Sunday, 15-Feb-2009 02:21:32 EST