How Do I Talk About Waste?

Inspired by Waste-Site Stories: The Recycling of Memory edited by Brian Neville, Johanne Villeneuve


When I see the greasy cardboard

The smell of pizza

Melting cheese

Bringing fond memories


I forget, I forget


Do you remember how good it feels?

To have aluminum and plastic filled with sugar

The American ritual

It’s only natural to have with pizza-

Says the bright digital advertisement

Colors carefully chosen to please my eye


It’s movie night

Suddenly I remember my old TV

And my old box of VHS tapes

Did I throw those away?


I forget, I forget


Oh, yes, I’m full

I satisfied more than a basic need

But look at my waste?

I’ll just throw it away in the right place


Is that enough? To only think of this moment?


Are we programmed this way?  

An urge to defend our right to box as many pizzas as we want?

AMERICA – My right to create, sort, and forget waste!

Everyone is saturated in it.



Memories? Nostalgia?

Advertisements that play on memories and nostalgia?

The 2nd, capitalist desire?   


I could conceptualize this idea of waste

Say what it means and fantasize less of it

But how foolish

When what we we call excess waste is really unfairly distributed resources of inevitable excess

We can only fantasize we are making less waste

Because we can forget, sort, and throw away our own waste


I don’t have to know any more than the information given to me

I don’t have to look past the bins I throw my trash in


Is this kind of entrenched programming reversible, interrogable overtime?

In a place like mine?

Will there ever not be excess in waste?

Beneath this first world “heaven”

Then we can only- no, we must sort and move it around, shove it down.

If we can’t even do something about it…or is it we can’t even talk about it?


Is waste so personal and complex for so long that we need to forget?

Stuck awaiting judgement in our own purgatory? Swimming in our own ideologies?

It isn’t like there aren’t any innovators

It isn’t like something as pure as technology hasn’t brought new efficiencies

It isn’t like our desire to be less wasteful hasn’t brought better infrastructure


But how do we talk…


About the evidence, the remnants of a ghost waiting to be seen?

So easy to not paint in our memories

in ourselves

Like it’s not ours

Like we’re dealing with trash in someone else’s yard

But it is ours

An extension of ourselves no matter how far above it we think we are


I need to pull myself down,

See the depth of my involvement

And the moments I have chosen to forget.


“…waste…is the unstable position in which purity seesaws with impurity, value with non-value, memory with forgetting. The moment it describes however is never entirely accomplished.” (102)
Click Here to Read Conclusion of Source Material

+ There are no comments

Add yours