Trash Day: A Modern Cause to Pause

A Post By: George Sm’elliot

General Election - Public Services

Since time immemorial, humans have celebrated rites of renewal. From ancient Egypt’s festival of the Nile flood to the mysterious druid monuments for the equinox, cultures across the world have found ways to recognize life’s cyclical nature. Although these events have taken different forms, they share a common call to pair the celebration of the new with a reflection on the past. Yet in an increasingly secular America, it seems many are losing touch with these totems of renewal. Indeed, many modern yuppies are so consumed with learning the latest meme or downloading the newest app, they scarcely have any inclination to pause and reflect on the cycles that give order to our lives. Is there anything that can help this lost generation recover their reverence for renewal and its symbols? Yes: Trash Day.

Trash Day Eve is the time to review the contents of the fridge and have the strength to force the moment to its crisis, to take a whiff of almost-expired-meat or questionable vegetables, and make a decision: to risk it or to pitch it. When making these decisions, I often look back on my trips to the grocery store, ordering pounds of ham from the deli with a pledge to pack my lunch each day, or filling bags with leafy greens in the hopes of healthier living, and take stock of whether I’ve lived up to these aspirations. It’s a time to think about how I can do better, or be more realistic about my shortcomings.

Waking up on the morning of Trash Day is another opportunity for reflection. Dragging a can to the curb means confronting our habits, and thinking about whether we really needed all those cardboard boxes from Amazon. It is also a time of solidarity with our neighbors, when we come together at the curb to share a moment as fellow passengers on this journey through the universe called life. It means an expression of faith in self-governance, of knowing that as a community, we commit to consigning our waste to a common pile of refuse.

Coming home from work on Trash Day puts a spring in one’s step. There’s always a feeling of relief when one checks the bare bins to make sure they’re truly empty, and to think about the week ahead, and your fresh start. No matter what gross waste you discarded before, the Trash Can forgives and forgets. It is accepting of any unwanted item, and doesn’t hold a grudge for stuffing stinky milk or old cheese down its face. No, the humble Trash Can is not Stonehenge or the Great Pyramid of Giza, those colossal symbols of renewal from epochs past, but we live in different times. Trash Day: a cause to pause for the modern world.


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