Skip to content

OFF TOPIC: Trash talking dead birds, garbage barges and billionaires

T his is not to suggest I was a young genius or anything, but when I was about seven years old, I came up with the perfect grift to avoid that worst of all childhood jobs – cleaning my room.

This is not to suggest I was a young genius or anything, but when I was about seven years old, I came up with the perfect grift to avoid that worst of all childhood jobs – cleaning my room.

Rather than spend precious time and energy picking things up and putting them back where they belonged, I realized I could simply take whatever was scattered around and toss – then stuff, then wedge – it under my bed. Drop the pink ruffled bed skirt into place to hide the evidence and – presto – clean room.

It’s a solution, I’m sure, no other child in history has ever thought of. And no doubt my mom was completely fooled each time I emerged after three and half minutes, announcing the task was complete.

But in my mind, I’d pulled off the perfect con. If your mom can’t see a mess, does it even exist?

You know what – it actually does, if she can smell it.

I still blame the cat for throwing me under the bus. One day, there was a horrid stink wafting from my room and the jig was up.

My mom marched me in and stood there while I laid on my stomach, reached under my bed and pulled out a seemingly endless stream of toys, clothes and books. Finally, from way in the back corner, came a blue flannel nightie. On it – in a mess of blood and feathers – was, I want to say … a robin? It was some kind of songbird, and it was decomposing.

When it comes to disposing of icky stuff we, as a society, are using a seven-year-old’s logic.

What can’t be – or isn’t – recycled, is piled up in remote landfills or loaded onto barges and shipped overseas, where it becomes the problem of some developing nation. If we can’t see it, it must not exist.

But it does exist, there’s more of it every day and it will eventually come back to haunt us.

I recall a proposal a number of years ago to build a garbage incinerator in the Lower Mainland, similar to those used in Europe. Public outcry over air emissions was so loud that it was the plan, and not the trash, that quickly went up in flames.

So what, then, is the answer?

As regular readers are no doubt aware, sometimes painfully dumb ideas take root in my brain and I think to myself, ‘You know who needs to hear about this? Everybody.’

So strap in, because this one’s a doozy.

Let’s shoot our trash into the sun.

Think about it. Stuff that would take centuries to break down here on Earth would be instantly vaporized.

And that vapour? Evaporated.

I don’t mean to hit you with so much science all at once, but even biological, chemical and nuclear waste would be no match for old Sol.

Something this pandemic has produced, besides a lot more garbage, is a lot more multi-billionaires (insert your own joke).

There are those among them, you may have noticed, who are a bit obsessed with space travel.

While they’re busy comparing the size of their rockets, perhaps they could put their big brains and giant bank accounts to work building a craft that can haul something into space besides other rich egomaniacs.

While Elon Musk and his ilk gas on about colonizing Mars, we continue to bury ourselves in toxic waste.

Might I suggest that if you have more money than you could possibly spend in a dozen lifetimes, perhaps your legacy shouldn’t be simply leaving the planet (I mean, don’t let us keep you) but leaving it a better place than it was.

One could argue – in fact, one does argue – that a few of these billionaires bear no small responsibility for creating and delivering the growing volume of crap that now litters our streets, trails, oceans and landfills. So perhaps it’s only fair they bear some of the burden of getting rid of it.

I Googled it, thinking that, as ridiculous an idea as it is, it has to have been floated by someone, somewhere, at some point.

And, of course it has. The main argument against it, from what I can see, is that figuring out precisely how to do it and then executing that plan would be extremely difficult and prohibitively expensive.

Minor details.

When has a massive price tag ever stood in the way of a government project? And, with a whole bunch of countries chipping in, maybe the sky is no longer the limit.

If a big, fat multi-national contract is what it takes to punch trash’s ticket into the sun, I can think of worse ways to spend trillions of dollars.

Besides, the potential for job-creation is astronomical, since all that garbage would have to be collected, compacted, loaded, secured and sent on its way along the right trajectory to explode into the sun.

All of this, many times over.

It’s so crazy, it just might work, right?

Worst-case scenario, we miscalculate, miss our target, and our trash floats off into the vast vacuum of space. If that happens, who among us is ever going to lay eyes on it again?

At that point, I say, we just drop the giant cosmic dust ruffle and call it a day.

Brenda Anderson is editor of Peace Arch News.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Brenda Anderson

About the Author: Brenda Anderson

Brenda Anderson is editor of the Peace Arch News.
Read more