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Disposable Nation: "Waste Not, Want Not"

By       Message James Armstrong II     Permalink
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Just a simple observation about how wasteful us Americans can be. And these are just the average people, everyone! These aren't the "Weirdos" or "Jagoffs"! It's the reason we are where we are now.


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So I am sitting at a coffee shop and writing and thinking about the past four days and I see someone, I won't say who they are because they do good work in the community, but I want to point out why we have so much waste in this nation and world. Again, I am only bringing up this person's actions because I believe it's the reason we keep bumping our collective heads. I am in no way trying to harm or slander this person with this. The reason I write this is because it needs to be read. We need to stop consuming and wasting at a record level, overflowing our landfills and running out of room. Besides, nobody else knows about my observation. This is the first anything has been said or thought about it, rather.

This person took down a notice from a window; the store front's window. I name of the store is not important either. Anyway, so he grabs the plastic posting item and pulls it from the window, and then heads over to the trash can sitting directly behind me and tosses it into the unobstructed hole. At first, I didn't think about it. Just went about in my journal, thinking about other things. Then it hit me. I turned in my seat and grabbed the plastic item from its temporary burial place. I would take the paper notice out of the plastic Staples sleeve and held on to it for reference. The plastic sleeve, though, was still in perfect condition and useful. No reason to toss it. It can be used over and over and over and over, in current condition, of course.

So I am writing about this in my journal and I see the person who tossed it away. I said, "Hey, it's still good," and attempted handing him the item. He shook me off and said, "That's okay, I got a ton of 'em back at the house," and walked back to his seat. Again, not placing blame here. Just pointing out how innocuous all this stuff is. Just highlighting the stuff people gloss over and then shout, "I can't believe this is happening!" or, "How did this happen!?" This is how. It's this little stuff. It all adds up if we all participate, and before you know it, the landfills are overflowing with "blight" and "detritus" and it's overflowing into your neighborhoods and playgrounds and baby cribs, oh my!

I'm looking at the plastic item right now. It's a useful plastic sleeve for someone's future paper. The holes are all intact. There's not coffee spilled on it, no saliva spat on it, no semen shat upon it, nothing. It's perfect. It could be used a few dozen more times I would guess. And that is only one item. And a small one. Now think about all the stuff we waste on a daily basis that is larger than this lost and lonely item. Think about all the waste of those college kids at the end of every semester who toss out computers and other items as though they've been used in an illegal act, thrown to the wayside like already-so-much spilled-chowder at a San Pedro seafood-restaurant.

Back when there was a real "depression," people saved everything. People did not waste a thing. They did not know if they would even see tomorrow because life was so dire you never really did know. Now that's a depression you can sink your teeth into! This thing we have going on right now... it's being held up with baling wire and duct tape, and the duct tape is beginning to peel off. Her ugly carcass is beginning to show. It's becoming an issue. It's rotting from within. And we are acting like it's okay. Not only are we acting like it's okay, but we are blaming those who had nothing to do with it, because we are afraid.

Yay us! [jumping in the air with both legs behind my ass, arms fully stretched outwardly as though I am reaching for the sun]

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-James Richard Armstrong II

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I'm a homeless student, writer, and activist... currently panhandling my way through school (and life.).
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