Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Our disposable, throw-away society...

Yesterday, hubby and I ran across a dumpster full of the contents of a deceased man's home in our little town. The enormous blue rectangle held in-tact lamps, little wooden shelves, place mats, gardening tools, a beautiful hand-crocheted afghan-style side-table cover, clothes, scores and scores of wonderful books on history, and who knows what else, all in good useful clean condition.

Piled up like trash. And that's just what we could see from the top.

On top was a huge book from Pioneer Village in Nebraska, what looks like an amazing place with artifacts from the history of practically everything in the U.S. The book is fascinating, with tons of pictures on topics like the evolution of bicycles and chewing gum.

It also told of the slaughter of buffalo to near extinction in the late 1800s, most often for only their tongues or hides or bones. Not for the meat, hundreds of pounds of it left to rot in the sun.

As my husband read about the slaughter to me, I grew sad, thinking of that dumpster full of usable things, the remnants of someone's life tossed in a bin. And it occurred to me that those two things come from a similar thought process, nearly 150 years apart. 

The wanton waste of an animal species and the casual discarding of a house full of things others could use. Lacking forethought. Quick and easy. Wasteful.

We are a culture obsessed with the new, the clean, the shiny, the latest distraction, as our landfills tower with things that could be reused, resold, re-purposed. You don't need it this minute, so just trash it. That's easier. Everything is disposable, without value. We throw away what can be used, then spend hard-earned money to buy more stuff. A vicious cycle.

Times are tough in this economy. Thrifts stores, yard sales and online venues like Ebay and Craigs List are more important now than ever, yet a large trash bin was paid for to haul away good things. 

I just don't understand, and there's not much I can do. Except personally reuse everything in my power and teach this skill to my son.

I believe these things that once made up the life of a human being are not without value. God provided for that person and those things could now provide for someone else, maybe many someone-elses. So much better that than stewing in the refuse of a landfill, taking up precious space. And so much better a memorial for the person who is gone. 

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