THE GREENING OF GARBAGE

THE GREENING OF GARBAGE: A POST-MODERN EXERCISE IN SPIN-DOCTORING

Today was another supposedly ‘Spring’ day in Québec city, with temperatures hovering around the freezing mark, and little flakes of snow fluttering in the air as if to say ‘it may be almost May, but that doesn’t mean anything around here, you know!’

Feeling uninspired to write anything of substance, I decided to kick myself in the butt and go for a walk. Well, it doesn’t take long to get inspired to write about something in this town the minute you step outside the confines of your private dwelling.

A big red garbage truck whizzed by me, with a 50th anniversary slogan emblazoned on its side, announcing proudly, in Molière’s language, that ‘we’ve been faithful to the environment now for 50 years!’ Gosh, and here I thought you’d been picking up smelly trash for half a century and bringing it to the dump, or to the incinerator.

Oh, and by the way, the dump is no longer ‘dumpy’ in its nomenclature. It’s now the ‘Eco-centre’. Yes indeed folks, our fair city’s network of municipal dumps are now oases of ecologically-friendly activity and ‘greenness’.

We even have a garbage pick-up company in town which is part of a country-wide company which now calls itself ‘Waste Management’. And guess what; their trucks are all painted green! Indeed, we no longer throw ‘garbage’ away, we ‘manage waste’.

Yup, I guess it’s all a question of post-modern perception and spin. Now granted we do have a much better system of disposing of and recycling building materials here in town. The city has invested millions of dollars into a solid waste disposal facility for triaging such things as construction materials and so forth.

Québec also has an excellent deposit law for bottles and cans. And all that stuff that goes to those famous ‘Eco-centres’ actually gets sorted now and gets sent off to a variety of reprocessing facilities around the country, such as paint recycling and so forth.

The city has also taken the trouble to put more big rolling blue bins in apartment buildings such as mine in the last several years. I was the first on my street to apply for them, when they sent us a card in the mail making them available. Granted it took six to eight weeks just to process my request by the city, but we did eventually get the bins, which quickly became so popular, that only a few years later, have become so overstuffed with recyclable garbage, that several of them are now split down the side.

If I remember properly, the so-called ‘three Rs’ of environmentalism were ‘Reduce, reuse, and recycle’, the first being ‘Reduce’. We seem to have put the cart before the horse, and are recycling and reusing more, but not reducing enough.

Oh well. At least now we’re proud to say that we’re ‘faithful’ to the environment, especially since we’ve done so much to despoil it, and are now faced with the spectre of not having it around anymore to be faithful or unfaithful to!

I guess that the old axiom of ‘you never know how good you’ve got it until you lose it’ still holds true. Regardless of what colour they paint the garbage trucks, I’m still going to buy as little as possible so as to have the least amount to ‘manage’ when it comes time to throwing anything into them, so that the ‘Eco centres’ can truly ‘echo’ with the sounds of a ‘reductionist’ mentality from at least this one citizen of the Village.

It’s amazing the inspiration you can get from the slogan on a garbage truck that whizzes by you on a chilly ‘spring’ day in Québec. Now that ain’t talkin’ trash, there brother!

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