good riddance, hello rubbish

It’s happening again; the students are moving out, and throwing out. After two cups of coffee I decided to walk with the hand cart to the big trash depot. There was a large double-glassed window there I’d been eyeing for months. I wanted to put it in next to my bed, let more light into the wagon, and use the wood that I would cut out to put it in to patch up the hole I’d cut in the wall to get rid of the evil fungus.

Just outside the depot fence was a pile of random trash. Really good trash, trash with my name all over it. There was a brass electric fake-candle light fixture, which I ripped the wiring out of and which I plan to affix to the wall above my bed, with actual candles. There was a metal toaster, and some 12-volt lights that I took to give to one of my solar-powered friends. I went inside and loaded up the window and headed home.

My next stop was the student trash across the street. My first find was a little spoon with a dog engraved on the handle. Then a duvet cover with a matching pillow case in zebra print with pink backing. Next a Tupperware container with a post it note in English stuck to the lid “These should help get you through the next two weeks. You’ll be home (and missing Germany) before you know it! Love, Mom.” Inside were chocolate chip cookies, store-bought from the looks of them. I tossed them and took the Tupperware.

The rest of her kitchen had landed in the trash as well, and I took a deep white bowl, a bread knife, two cutting boards, powdered garlic, and a sauce pan, still full of the noodles that must have been this student’s last meal before heading to the plane.

I would say the dumpster gods are celebrating my housewarming, but the truth is that this stuff lands in the trash at the end of every single semester. There must be enough pots and pans in the world by now that we, the industrial nations, could simply stop producing them, right now, and still have more than enough to cook for the world several times over. This is a reoccurring fantasy of mine: a grinning politician or CEO in a suit in front of the press, neatly stacking the pile of papers in her hands, in his hands, and saying “Well, we stopped all production in the plastic industry today. With the oil shortage and the fact that we already have more than enough plastic circulating to last us all another thousand years, we didn’t see the need to continue business any longer.” A cheer goes up from the crowds, hats are thrown in to the air, people watching the press conference on their TVs at home give each other high fives and crack bottles of champagne.

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