Wednesday, October 14, 2009

What do plastics and cockroaches have in common?

When I was in college my entomology professor said, “If bugs are your friends, you will never be alone.” That has gotten me through many a bug infestation, and I’m seeing something similar with trash. No matter where I go, trash and litter seem to be right there with me.

I went to the grocery store yesterday with Quinn, my four year old son. I carried him across the parking lot, and when we almost into the store he said “Mommy! Litter!”

Litter is so prevalent that I have to prioritize which pieces of litter I pick up so I don’t die or cause accidents. Plastics are a top priority to pick up. Paper products are lower on the list. Litter in a busy parking lot is further down on the list because the safety of my small children has to come first.

Quinn had spotted a paper bag that had been decorated to look like a pumpkin, and it was pretty far away. I told him we'd get it on the way back because we’d pass right back by it, and it really looked as if someone might have forgotten it. He said, and I kid you not, "If Ms. Bonnie were here, she would pick it up."

I guess I’ve taught him well.

We turned around, walked back across the parking lot, and picked up the paper bag, which was crudely painted to look like a pumpkin and had a paper leaf attached.

We finished our shopping and where checking out when the cashier offered Quinn a cookie. I told her we were in the store about 4 seconds before he hit the cookie bin so he was all set. Then she asked another cashier to get a balloon for him – she was really going out of her way to be nice to us - but I had to tell her that I don't take balloons. She looked a little off, and said, "Oh, sorry." I told her I really appreciated the thought, but I have seen and plucked too many balloons and balloon strings from the ocean. She looked surprised, and said how she tries to be green and she'd never thought of that before. She’d never seen the impacts of her very sweet and completely well intentioned offerings of balloons. But they are a real problem; I’ve seen them washing in here in North Carolina and in Bermuda. We saw balloon parts in the North Atlantic Gyre, and Bonnie saw the balloons that were found in the stomach of a sea lion. It’s no trivial matter, these balloons.

When we’d finished checking out, I had to explain the paper bag pumpkin that was in the cart. We have recycled the paper bag and the newspaper stuffed inside.

Trash is everywhere. Sometimes, it can turn into a meaningful experience for everyone involved.

If trash is your game, you never have to look to far to make a difference.


  1. Cockroaches don't only have things in common with plastic but also with all garbage you can find every where, and as far as I'm concern I have no bonds or sympathy with cockroaches. Those bugs always come up to my bed to still my tablets of Generic Viagra.