I was out the other day at the grocery store with a friend of mine and I needed to get some cheese. American cheese, to be exact. Now, I know that American cheese is one of the worst cheeses on the market, but I had a hankering for a grilled cheese sandwich with American cheese, so American cheese it had to be.
I told my friend what I was looking for and she said, 'here it is, right here!' But I told her that I didn't want that cheese because it was individually wrapped, and I wanted the kind that was sliced but not individually wrapped.
When she asked me why, I told her it was because I don't like all the extra trash that individually wrapped cheese produced. I am perfectly capable of peeling my cheese myself, thank you very much, and I don't need each slice individually wrapped!
She was a bit incredulous. 'It's all the same', she said. 'No, it's not', I replied. If I buy that cheese, then all that plastic will just be in the landfill and I don't want to be responsible for that. I want to do my part.'
She rolled her eyes and tapped her foot impatiently while I hunted down the not-individually wrapped American cheese that I was looking for.
And that got me thinking. Do people really not get it? Do they really not care? I mean, in the stores, there are entire aisles of items that are made entirely for the purpose of being thrown away.
Plastic Trash Bags
Plastic Food Storage Bags
The list goes on.
Then I got to thinking:
Is this an American thing? I mean, it is Americans who are the wasteful ones? Who is it that is using and tossing all of this stuff?
I have an interesting ummm...hobby, I guess you could call it. As I drive around town dropping people off at their various locations, and I see something on the side of the road that looks remotely decent, I will pick it up and haul it home, go through it and if there's anything worth anything, I toss it in the shed til the shed gets full and then we either donate it or have a yard sale. You would be amazed at what I find! Whole rolls of wrapping paper that still have their plastic on them; huge trash bags full of clothes, some of which still have the tags on them; baby and kids toys galore; bikes; strollers; lamps; dressers; tables...you name it, I probably come across it. Anytime we really need something, it's usually just a waiting game til it shows up in someone's trash somewhere.
And who are the people who throw these things away? What are they thinking?
How can people make the conscious decision to put things in the trash that are perfectly good still? Do they think that the trash just disappears? Does it just vanish in their minds? Don't they see that they are hurting their own children by what they are doing?
We had a yard sale last weekend and we made about $100. That's not really much money, but when you figure that most of the stuff in the yard sale was stuff that I got out of people's trash, I don't feel too bad about it. I was a bit annoyed when this guy came up and said, 'what, do you have a daycare or just spoiled kids?'. I wanted to tell him that I found all the toys in the trash, but he was buying a few things, so I didn't really want to let him know he was paying for someone's trash, so I just smiled and took his money.
The kicker was this:
A boy and his dad who live around the corner from us came to the yard sale. I had 2 plastic ride on cars in the sale, a blue one and a red one. I had already sold the red one for $3, but the blue one was still there. The boy turns to his dad and says 'Hey dad! That car looks like the one that we just threw away and ours was missing the top part, too!'
Wanna guess where I got those 2 cars? ;-)
Yeah, they bought some stuff, too.