Okay, maybe not YOU, but if you live in my neighborhood, or more specifically, on my three-mile-walk route, I might. Today is trash day and I finally got myself up in time to go for that longer walk. It nearly killed me, but I feel like I could take on the world now. And even though I came home to find that my husband was already up doing some kind of work on his computer and generally just BEING here for my quite alone time, it was still a lovely morning. Especially the part where I get to suck down some water, pour my coffee, and relish the feeling of knowing I’ve already done my workout for the day, that no matter what else I blow off today, I got THAT done.
Anyway, back to the trash. I don’t know how it is where you live, but here in our neighborhood, you get bins for recycling issued to you by the company that collects it. When we moved into our house, we found two lids that fit the bins, and if there’s a lot of paper and it’s very rainy or snowy, my husband will use the lids, but mostly the bins are left open. Open for the whole world to see what’s in them. It surprises me a bit that my dear, privacy obsessed husband doesn’t use the lids more often, but maybe the fact that we’ve never, ever seen anyone else use them, if they even have them, stops him. Sometimes his need to not stand out triumphs. Sometimes I wonder how we ever got together. So, trash, or recycling anyway, is out there for all to see what you are discarding. More importantly, it’s out there for the world to see what’s being recycled. And as I walked this Friday morning, I noticed the bins, their contents, and honestly, I was judging.
Now, don’t start with the lecture. I try really hard not to be a judgmental person, not to pass judgments on folks when I don’t have all the information, and it isn’t my place to judge anyway, but let’s be honest here. Everyone is judging a little bit all the time. I’m not going to name names or give addresses, and the picture is of one of OUR bins, but I had thoughts when I peeked into my neighbors bins. Thoughts that came unbidden. Thoughts about the people who filled, or sometimes didn’t fill, those bins.
First, let me say that most of the bins looked a lot like my own. There were some cereal boxes, sometimes broken down, sometimes not, some convenience food boxes, a few beer cans and maybe a wine bottle, pop cans, newspapers, a couple milk jugs, maybe a couple other juice containers. Nothing exciting or even noteworthy. Then there were a few bins with almost nothing in them. A few newspapers and that’s it. Really? In a week nobody in your house used a single pop or beer can? No cardboard pasta box was finished off? Not even a toilet paper roll tube got revealed? Seems unlikely, right? You just couldn’t be bothered, or you don’t think it’s worth the time and effort. Then there are the ones that are overflowing with every container of every kind, all rinsed and perfect, ready to go. Shampoo bottles, pasta sauce jars, aluminum cans, frozen food bags, crumpled up balls of aluminum foil. These are all recyclable if you didn’t know, and probably should be recycled, so here I fall short. But those bins are also almost always containing nothing but organic and “natural” products. Good for you, I say! I wish I was more committed to the organic thing (though, I’m not convinced on all fronts), but it’s so expensive. Finding balance in the grocery budget requires that I don’t always buy only the organic. And sadly, I think the owners of those bins are a little over the top. I wonder to myself where the sacrifices in their lives are so that they can do that, or are they so well set that they need not sacrifice to pay $7 a gallon for milk when the regular hormone-free stuff is $2.50 at WalMart. And there were bins filled to overflowing with beer cans. We sometimes have that, if we have company for the weekend, or a party. Did they have a party or do they have this every week. I didn’t necessarily note the address of these people, but if I see that a lot, I’ll notice, right? I’ll wonder.
Yeah, I have no business thinking any of this stuff, right? Well, three miles, even at my speedy clip, takes over 40 minutes to walk. I have time to think. If it weren’t for this here blog, you’d never know I was thinking it, right? But I have to tell you about something. I’m not going to believe you if you tell me you never have such thoughts. Maybe it isn’t about the trash your neighbor puts out, but what about the kind of car he drives, or the shoes his children wear. Or maybe it’s how well his front flower beds are weeded. Everything we do says something about ourselves, and it isn’t always as obvious as what we put on Facebook.