On Waste

My neighbors across the street appear to be moving.  Most likely moving on short notice.  I never really got to know them - a single mom with 3 kids.   People were always coming and going, and now people having been buzzing about all afternoon and evening emptying the contents of the home onto the beds of two pickup trucks and carting it away.

Except for the giant pile of "trash."

Not the neighbors, but you get the idea.
American homes generate a ridiculous amount of waste on a day to day basis.  That alone is a crime, but what's really killing me right now is that a lot of this "trash" is seemingly usable items the family simply doesn't need any more and does not want to take.  Okay, so just some of it is.  I hope that she is getting better beds to replace the 6 duct-taped mattresses lying in the heap.  But why are her male friends gleefully carrying bookshelves, TV stands, and other furniture items down to the curb and then smashing and kicking the heck out of them?  Why not at least leave them standing for the evening with a sign saying "free?" 

I'm kind of hoping the rocking horse and kid's picnic table survive the madness and maybe I can ask her for them.

The most nonsensical part of this scene is that all of these people are living in "poverty."  I see this so often at work.  Many of those in poverty are the worst stewards of the resources they have.

I don't understand.   I would have paid her for a couple of those shelves, but before I could open my front door they were destroyed.  Can anyone explain?

She could have sold them for money, which she almost certainly needs.  She could have given them to a friend - I'm sure she knows someone who could use them.  But now she's just deprived herself of money, or her friends of the goods, and added to the ever-growing morass of waste consuming our world. 


  1. I don't know anything about her situation, but it's possible she got them for free somewhere or other and they therefore have no value to her. In other words, if there is no sacrifice to get something, it has no personal value.

  2. It drives me crazy to see all the decent, if not nice, furniture and other household stuff that I've seen when other people on my block move-seemingly without even a thought of offering it to anyone-I mean, some thrift stores will even pick up your stuff for you! I think for a lot of people, especially those not exactly living in poverty, this horrible habit starts in college-I'm sure you've been to many an Old-to-Gold sale by now, or have just seen the dumpsters after students move off campus-amazingly new and useful things are trashed because of laziness or lack of planning. I really think that instead of focusing so much on 'environmental' efforts like using less water in the dining halls, students need to start a campaign to combat waste during moving seasons. The only other explanation I can think of is that it can be cathartic to destroy old stuff when you have to leave it behind...but it is still awfully wasteful to do it with things that are still in good shape and usable.