Having been around the world, I’ve given up hope. Not that people are normally and naturally o.k./good even, yet hope that the world won’t just become a really dirty place marked by plastic. Some countries hide it better than others, some even are doing the right thing, yet the majority of the time, for the majority of the people, we are not righteous within the eyes of garbage. I know what not to do, but I find myself with that plastic bottle, take out dish, the plastic bag.
Garbage on the streets could be a symptom of a lack of taxes paid, a lack of elected working officials, a lack of civil organization as there isn’t money to make in garbage. Visible garbage, floating in streams, gathered on road sides, stuck in trees and half buried on beaches seems to be a common visual sign ‘this government isn’t functioning that well.’
Bangalore gets a good score, yet fails in many ways. After recently living in a poorer country, we find our garbage interactions turned positive, so we shrug and remark at how better the air is here, how there are fewer smoking plastic piles. Then the sun shines, the rain dries and the smell of rotting collected trash (a really special and amazing smell) catches me by the throat.
In our thousand person apartment complex, there are wet and dry garbage days, where each goes, no one I’ve asked knows. The internet has told me of former quarries being packed full, rick shaw by tractor load. The side of the road, any road, still remains a favorite, even though this is no solution except for that one person at that moment. These road side dumps have an ecosystem; the dogs come, cows, birds and people to sift through the last bits of someone’s life to see if there is just a little bit more energy for a day forward to the next. The bugs finish what they can and the plastic bits live on.
On a recent hike with school, we were given little bags to clip around our waste and as we climbed, we each eagerly scooped up bits of plastic. It felt good getting this ugly human trace off the mountain. As the face pitched up, we naturally broke for a rest and I wondered off trail a bit to see the view. There were hundreds and hundreds of hunks and pieces of plastic strewn down the mountain. Evidence that someone climbed up 20 mins of effort, to dump bags of garbage. I didn’t even bother to raise a call to the group, to pick up 40 out of 600 hundred seemed pointless. I quietly went back to the trail to the peak to survey the land from so high up that not even the trace of people could break the flow and strength of nature, at least from that one perspective.