In 2017, I ventured to Honduras with a small group of other missionaries. La Moskitia is a breath-taking province. Rivers, jungle, and prairie scrub create a stunning landscape. The village that we lived and worked in for a week maintained two markets. Most people went to the market daily to get their necessities. Our group noticed the large amounts of plastic bottles and other refuse cast aside the roadways—and even on the hospital grounds where we stayed.
I never asked—perhaps I will never know—why people just discarded their trash where it landed. I imagine it might have much to do with no public—or private—sanitation companies to haul and ‘properly’ dispose of their household garbage. They burned everything that could burn. Plastic, our American gift to the developing world, does not burn well.
According to Statista, a marketing and consumer data collector that I found on Google, the United States produces 4.4 pounds of municipal waste EACH DAY PER PERSON. The United States was one of eight countries that produced more than four pounds per capita per day. Iceland, Greenland, Mongolia, and New Zealand simply don’t have the space or means to effectively deal with their trash problem. It seems that the United States has ample space, means, technology, and financial resources, we simply choose to throw away vast amount of the things we are done with.
My walk along Hill Road occasionally reminds me of the roads in Ahuas. I tell myself that the trash accumulating on the roadside comes from recyclers racing to the recycling center a mile down the road. Cans, bottles, papers, plastics escape speeding vehicles of otherwise well-intentioned citizens. This isn’t true.
I believe most people discard their trash along the road because they have run out of use for it. It disturbs me. It disturbs me that I produce so much garbage—even if I try to keep it contained. Mother Earth deserves so much better.
Potentially, our collective tendency to discard and waste says something about our collective psyche, our collective soul. We are a throwaway society. We throw away trash. We throw away cars. We throw away houses. We throw away clothing, and furniture, and toys, and tools. We throw away our values, theology, principles, and morals. We throw away people with a casual ease.
I believe it is time for us to reconsider our disposable mindset. The tree hugger mantra may help: Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Rather than consider everyone and everything replaceable, I wonder how we would function in our world if we reduced our consumption of other people. I wonder how we would act if we could repurpose how we treat other people. I wonder how we would feel if we could recycle, reclaim, renew, and revitalize the people around us.
I believe we would find ourselves likewise recycled, reclaimed, renewed, and revitalized. I can’t see anything bad in that.
I love you.
I need you.
I hope for you.
Please be safe.