today is the day of the perfect pond. We’ve had enough sunlight to warm the pond beyond being unbearably cold, but not too much warmth to turn it into a bathtub. It’s refreshing and beautiful and clear and it’s still cold enough that many people think it’s too cold, so it’s not crowded even at 4pm. The frogs start croaking around 5:30, and if there isn’t anyone in the water, an amphibian symphony ensues. A few days ago before dinner I took a book down, jumped in to wash off the day’s grime, and then laid in a chair on the edge of the water to read while the frogs serenaded me. I even skipped dinner so I could enjoy it longer.

This morning someone brought an inflatable chair to the pond — not a raft, but an easychair-sized throne. Enormous fun in the middle of the pond with three people trying to sit on it at once. We got it from this weekend’s dumpster dive at the University of Virginia, whose students just escaped from classes. They feel abundant in knowledge (or is it priviledge?), and so they throw away other excess like clothing, furniture, rugs, food, shoes, and infltatable chairs. It happens every year, at college campuses accross the country. Dumpsters full of unopened packages of Ramen Noodles, dried fruit, rice, and rice cookers, hiking boots, fuck-me boots, running shoes, jeans, shirts, formal dresses and silverware. A group from Twin Oaks goes every year at the end of school with one of our cargo vans and they load up all kinds of treasure from the dumpsters (but they don’t get in the dumpsters… all you UVA security guards reading this). On Sunday afternoon they laid it all out in one of our parking lots for people to take what they wanted. I was working in the tofu hut that afternoon, and we shut down production for half an hour while we went to rummage thru the loot. I got a bag of Craisins (which I LOVE), a pair of blue and brown striped corduroy pants, and a nice printed linen shirt. And a dry erase board. Lots of those to go around. Most of what they got will go to our communal stash — cooking utensils, clothes, carpets and furniture primarily.

Whenever I go dumpster diving, whether rooting through things that are brought back to the community or crawling around in the metal bin myself, I’m disgusted. Not by the smell, no, but by the waste, by the disregard for the needs of others and one’s capacity to fill them, by the disregard for the earth. Where do people think things go when they’re thrown away? ANSWER: they don’t THINK. At all. It goes in the trash and it’s gone. And of course it’s not. It goes to a landfill, those piles of “waste” that are growing exponentially in size and number each year.

I’ve done “dump runs” as a job here, which entails going to each building and loading the garbage cans into the back of a pickup truck, driving to the dump, and emptying the barrels onto the ground. Or rather, onto the rest of the trash on the ground.

So much waste when so many are lacking in basic needs. How can we justify it?

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