The Trash Outside
The Trash Pile Outside Our House by Whitney Mickelsen
I think there are at least three ways of handling trash in this world.
1 - Out of site out of mind. Taking it far out of town and burying it.
2 - Doing what we can to recycle it. Putting an honest effort into making our impact on this earth as minimal as possible.
3 - Where you are is where it stays. Just tossing your trash in the gutter without remorse.
In Kenya it is defiantly the last of the three. Here there is no infrastructure to collected garbage. So the only option is to just throw it on the ground where ever you might be at the time.
If you know me, you know I hate littering with a passion. So the first time I dumped our house garbage in the little garbage pile outside our house (where everyone in our little apartment complex puts their garbage) I felt me heart break a little. There are dozens of these informal dumps around town and none of them are pleasant. I felt terrible just throwing my garbage on the ground! At first I didn’t know if I could do it, but how else was I going to get ride of it?!
So on our way to dinner one evening Daniel and I dropped our bag of trash in the pile and on our way back home I was amazed. We had only be gone an hour but our small trash bags were either gone or had been searched through for what could be salvaged. Both people and animals make use of these garbage piles so its always a surprise when we come around the corner before our house and come face to face with a new critter who’s scratching through the garbage.
Over the past two weeks of living here in Bungoma I have see people, dogs, cows, pigs, chickens, and goats shuffling through the garbage! Often the animals are unaccompanied and I wonder where they come from. Today I was surprised to see three frisky pigs having a great time rooting around with no one in sight. Later when I went by they were gone – where did they go?! But my favorite is seeing the mother chickens scratch vigorously at the trash so that their chicks can scurry and peck up the bugs!
All this has led me to conclude that hiding our garbage a few miles out of town under some dirt isn’t all that much better than tossing it on the side of the road. The garbage is still there, still in the environment and still on this planet. We took natural materials and made them unnatural and now we don’t know what to do with them. Burying it isn’t a solution it just makes it easier to forget about. At least when the garbage is in the open we get to see cute animals! I think we should focus on reducing our use and getting better at reusing – that’s the real solution.
Even if you don’t see it, your garbage is still just the trash pile outside your house; the only difference is you can’t see it from the window like we can.