One educational feature of the garbage strike is that people get to see how much trash we actually generate. The growing heaps of refuse littering the city have convinced some alarmists that it's time for all of us to take personal responsibility and reduce. This is the same type of fuzzy thinking that gave us popular modern bogeymen such as global warming. The truth is, there are resources of untapped space in most homes where infinite amounts of garbage can be stored.
The average ceiling is at least 2.6 metres high. The typical garbage bag is no more than 61 centimetres. With screw-in loops fastened to the ceiling and some strong fishing line (say of the 12-pound variety), there's no telling how many garbage bags can be strung up -- out of sight and out of mind -- overhead. There will still be, on average, almost 2 metres below, quite enough space for most people to walk comfortably. Given that most families produce only two or three bags of rubbish per week, we'll be able to store our own garbage for at least another four months.
Children have a lot more room over their heads than do adults. In places where children play or study, there's no end to the storage space. Three, sometimes four layers of garbage can be hung over their heads.
Ultimately, though, our ability to increase garbage storage will require a change of perspective -- a shift to smaller and smaller bags so that even the tiniest nooks and crannies can be used. Indeed, small-bagging opens up a realm of untapped potential: in cupboards, under tables and chairs and from the hands of clocks. Small swinging bags of garbage on loops in doorways can act as screens for privacy.
If the strike continues, we can wear little bags of garbage about our necks and fingers instead of jewellery. Clearly, then, there's no cause for alarm or reduction. Available space really is almost infinite. Picture green garbage bags hung from tree limbs, dangling from eavestroughs, flag staffs and steeples, atop cars and buses. Then there are all those empty swimming pools and schools. With a little re-visioning, there are few places that cannot serve as mini-dumps. Yes, small green garbage bags can serve as mobiles above your baby's crib.
But one must be careful, especially when storing wet waste. Diseased animal fats, rotting biological wastes, chemicals and particularly radioactive materials can find their way out of even the strongest bags. These poisons can not only damage your furniture but also be hazardous to your baby's face for years to come. Fortunately, there's a simple, inexpensive solution. Double bag.
Robert Priest's latest work is The Secret Invasion Of Bananas