By the Editor: Steve Van Nattan
I trust that you can appreciate the ambient trashy colors for this page.
In our home it is a regular ritual that we go through the house and de-trash the home. It seems that we Americans collect junk and generate trash better than any culture in the world. I thought it would be interesting to discuss this. We will divide the world into three main trashing groups:
TRASHERS ONE: THE DEVELOPING WORLD
The developing world is where trash has not yet reached its full potential. The main reason they have woefully fallen behind the West is because they keep finding a use for everything. I have a lamp I bought in Tanzania which is made of a burned out light bulb and bits of tin from a metal motor oil can. A tin smith soldered it all together, and it is very artistic, and it works. As long as Africa and other developing countries keep re-using their trash, they will never have a really functional city dump complete with rats and sea gulls.
I understand that in cities like Nairobi, with its Mathadia Valley, many other African cities, as well as Cairo, prosperity has set in, and the middle class is now throwing away trash faster than the trash re-users can find a use for it. Trash re-use is NOT some sort of New Age leftist notion. I once went to the city dump, and I found a whole set of Lego building blocks. I collected them, and I brought them home and soaked them in bleach to disinfect them, and we still have them. I can't bear to get rid of them since they were free, you see. The motto of Third World Trashers is, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." In the West we have resisted this immature attitude in recent years, and we now have vast land fills and dumps which receive our trash and sustain vermin beyond imagination.
It seems to me that we in the West could relieve this situation in the Developing World somewhat. We might ask for donations to be left at collection sites, and the trash of our higher standard of life could be shipped to Africa in containers. It could be distributed to various relief agencies to be dumped willy nilly on the outskirts of various African cities. Western tourists could be asked to carry their trash to Africa when they go traveling.
Wait, I forgot-- I think the West is already sending a rather large contribution of trash to Africa. We have, for many years now, been sending old Hollywood movies to them. Also, Voice of America and the BBC frequently send trash in the form of Rock music and Liberal Commentaries. Perhaps Africa is getting about as much of our trash as they actually need after all.
TRASHERS TWO: SEMI-DEVELOPED COUNTRIES
Now, these countries are those which have come half way or more out of the "Third World" situation. Such countries as the Philippines and India have a markedly advanced situation. In India, for example, some of the Middle Class neighbourhoods have generated massive amounts of trash. India is learning to wrap their products three or four times-- you know, a box holding the item, which is in its own wrapper inside the box, and the whole thing in cellophane. I also noticed the last jar of "chili pickle" I purchased from JP Patel was wrapped in cellophane. Of course, in the West we go way beyond that. In our advanced packaging system, the item is also mounted on a huge piece of cardboard with shrink plastic, and there is a safety seal around it which totally prevents the purchaser from getting it open.
Now, these Semi-Developed countries don't really need any more trash. Outside of their cities one sees vast mountains of trash with sacred rats scurrying all over it. One wonders if the rats have it better than the people who generated the trash. What India and other Semi-Developed countries need most is Western advisors to help these people spread their trash all over the country better. In the USA and many European countries, trash is found virtually everywhere. Out along country roads, one can see broken bottles glittering in the morning sun, while plastic shopping bags hang from shrubs and trees, making the landscape fairly sparkle with color.
In India, for example, the poorer people in the countryside keep collecting these scattered forms of trash and using them. Laws are needed at once in India forbidding the poorer castes from removing trash put there by the Indian Middle Class. Also, the Indian government needs to fund projects for the free distribution of trash, thus allowing city dwellers to send their trash to the country. One way to accomplish this would be by adding trash boggies to the railroad trains. As they leave the cities, they would be piled high with trash, and all along the way, an employee could throw the trash along the right of way-- just like in Europe and America.
Now, I realize that this is revolutionary thinking, and it may take India many more years to actually catch up with the West in the fair distribution of trash, but I think with some effort they can find junk and stinking filth all over their country just like America.
TRASHERS THREE: THE WESTERN WORLD
We once flew to Africa from furlough on a charter of missionaries. The flight was very unique in that it went from New York City directly to Lagos, Nigeria. About half way through the flight, we were privileged to see one of the most amazing sights in modern times. It is a sight to make an American, Englishman, or Frenchman feel great pride indeed. It was the Sargasso Sea. As we gazed down from 30,000 feet at the Sargasso Sea, we saw to our amazement millions of white plastic milk jugs floating in the water.
As you know, the Sargasso Sea is a very stagnant area because the ocean current swirl draws from all over the Atlantic seaboard and terminates there, and there is rarely ever any wind in that location. It is a wonder of modern technology that the Western world has made such "durable goods" that they do not reach the end of their usefulness when we throw them in the trash-- NO, they find their way all the way into the middle of the Atlantic ocean. Never have so few trashed so much.
We also have learned to make automobile tires which cannot be destroyed. If you bury them, they wiggle right back up out of the ground. We have also developed an amazing machine which the third world has not nearly enough trash to appreciate. It is called the "trash compactor," and it automatically turns 40 pounds of trash into 40 pounds of trash. Only in America and Europe could such a device be taken seriously. It shows how much higher our intellect has risen above the "Developing World" where trash is cherished rather than compacted.
We in the West have also learned to use our trash to full advantage to decorate the roadsides. All over America tourists remark about our lovely trash. In Arizona, where I live, the citizens have taken to throwing their plastic shopping bags out the car window as they travel along. Thus, the state flower of Arizona is the trash bag.
During the dry seasons in the Arizona deserts, the flowers still bloom beautifying the countryside. Only California comes close to Arizona in trashing the roadsides. If you come to Arizona for a visit, please notice the variety of colors of the state flower. There is the K-Mart white bag with blue marking. There is the brown bag which I think is a hybrid raised in the Tucson Mall. The rarest bag of all is the pink bag with small blue print-- That is the Sweet and Low bag. If you come from India or Brazil to visit Arizona, please take some plastic bags home with you. You may not pick the cactus and wild poppies, but trash bags are not protected since there are so many to go round. Pick a few for friends back home-- PLEASE!
CONCLUSION: TRASHERS OF THE WORLD UNITE
We have to have a more fair distribution of trash. The old Communist regimes were the best in the world at spreading trash around evenly so that everyone had an equal portion of moldy potatoes. I suggest you send contributions of your trash to Michail Gorbachev at his Foundation headquarters in San Francisco. He is a good old Communist at heart, and he would be best qualified to redistribute this trash to the poor citizens of the world.
I note also that Henry Kissinger is profoundly qualified to discern the correct application of trash. He is the one who gave us such trash as the Paris Peace Accords, a "Just and Durable Peace," and Shuttle Diplomacy-- pure noxious trash you must admit. Perhaps we could ask Boutros Boutrous Galli to appoint Henry Kissinger and Michail Gorbachev to head a commission to set up their headquarters in the New York City city dump and do studies on trash use.
It seems also that the various Parliaments, Senates, and Legislatures of the world could find a use for our trash. They have done a splendid job of generating mountains of trash in the form of pointless regulations and ordinances. Start with Governor Cuomo and OSHA. Also, don't forget British Social Services.