Garbage – the Universal Utility

What price do we already pay for making garbage disposal into the universal utility.

Everyone gets garbage service. Even homeless people who don’t get running water or electricity. But they can throw out garbage.

Every once in a while, the horrible waste that garbage brings is brought home to us in a glaring manner. This is before trying to apply Zero Waste Theory or anything elaborate. Sometimes garbage collectors are sufficiently horrified at being asked to break up or throw away obviously valuable objects that that they collect and display them instead. Here is a library, made from discarded books.

In New York city a garbageman named Nelson Molina has assembled a museum of thousands of valuable, interesting and special objects which he captured from the garbage that he was picking up for 30 years. He took these objects from bags of garbage, so he probably left tons of other goodies in the bags without noticing them. Listen to his story on this radio interview. People are astounded that he has been able to assemble such a collection. But everyone misses the point!

The real point is that Molina is just one garbageman among hundreds of thousands of garbagemen around the United States, not to mention the global number. Now Molina gets help from a number of other garbagemen but we could probably project a hundred thousand times as many loci as this one, each one of which could assemble just as interesting a museum as Molina’s. All of that useful, interesting, repairable and often irreplaceable “trash” was never captured for a museum. It just went to a dump. What a loss! What a waste! The problem lies with the reactionary view of garbage in this world. Any person can take a valuable object and decree: “I want this to go into a dump no matter what it is and no matter who wants it!”. And the law will back them up, instead of intervening with some common sense. This is a catastrophic shame for our world. A world that worships waste.