When I was a kid, after dinner we cleared the table and scraped whatever was left on our plates into a kitchen garbage bag. That bag was then dumped in one of two huge metal drums on the side of our house that were below ground. Not buried treasure: buried trash. On Mondays, some guy yanked the drums out of the ground and hauled them to the street, where he threw the contents in the back of a garbage truck. That’s when every dog in the neighborhood started barking.
Waste has become so complicated I’m afraid to make a removal decision for fear my wife will chastise me. She has become environmentally conscious and watches my every discardance (I’m sure that’s not a word, but I really needed it here).
For example, do Styrofoam cups go in the garbage can under the sink? Heaven, forbid! Can they be recycled? Recycling bins list accepted contents online, but every item requires careful scrutiny. Ink cartridges? Cooking grease? Aerosol cans? There’s no easy way to remember everything. There is even a picture on our bin’s lid of soda bottles that are OK to recycle: one bottle is clear, one is brown and one is green. What about yellow? What do I do with my Dew?
Recycling bins have warnings to not dump “unknown materials.” But that’s why I want to get rid of the thing in the first place. It’s been an unknown in my basement for years.
What can go in the garbage disposal? I need special permission from Mary Ellen to use that device because the goop fills up the septic tank under the back yard. I miss that familiar grumbling sound — not from Mary Ellen, but from the disposal.
My wife is also composting now. I fought this. If I wanted a woman who composted, I would have left her years ago and married someone who wears white socks with sandals and listens to Joni Mitchell while she puffs the magic dragon.
We compost all leftover fruits and vegetables, and once a month a small company called Earth Mama picks up our container and, for a small fee, turns the waste into fertilizer. Some of the items we compost could just as easily be thrown in the woods for the birds and squirrels. Mary Ellen is now preparing a page of instructions for me, so I don’t make the wildlife obese.
About a month ago, I finished eating a delicious peach and placed the pit on the kitchen counter.
“What do we do with this?” I asked Mary Ellen.
“Oh, dear, I have no idea. Let me do a little research.”
The pit is still sitting there. We can’t recycle it or put it in the disposal or feed it to the animals in the forest. Earth Mama comes tomorrow. Now, it’s her problem.