When Trash isn't really Trash

By Christina Kim - March 17, 2016


It was early in the morning as I was headed out and was taking out the trash at the same time.
As I approached the trash disposal area, I noticed someone at the bin rummaging through the trash.
It was an elderly woman.

She must have sensed my presence for she immediately stiffened and as though afraid of me, she stopped whatever she was doing. 
I continued walking toward the bin but hastily threw my trash into it; and walked away subtly.
That was what she had wanted anyway; apparent from the way she looked in the other direction and her stillness though I kept my distance as I had sensed her hostility.

I couldn't blame her, because I know what she was thinking; of what she was doing.
She felt guilty, or simply ashamed, for going through the trash, which normally people wouldn't really do.
That was the reason for her choice of that hour; before everyone awakes and catches her in action.

I could understand her embarrassment.

In that minute as I was approaching, threw my trash and walked away, I couldn't help taking in the scene either.

Though it may seem like her actions would lead to what would be perceived as a messy aftermath, it wasn't quite the case.
She came prepared, she had those large black plastic bags (the kind you either threw rubbish in or, ermm, corpses) which she used to sort and then tie the trash.
They were neatly placed.

Perhaps she was really just working for the city council; sorting the rubbish for the later processing, or she may be just looking through for things she could use for her own benefit - cardboards, cans, bottles which could bring in some cash when sold at recyclable centers.
Either way, she was doing all of us a favor as well, to organize the trash.
I am sure even the garbage collectors would thank her for the way she tidied them up and putting them in bags.

I don't know which was her story, but the thing that tugged at me and had me thinking through the entire day was her.
Rummaging through the trash.

Don't ask me how I sensed her embarrassment or hostility, it's not something which can be explained though it is quite logical at the same time.
I don't think anyone would find it glamorous to be going through the trash; unless they are paid to do so as part of their job scope.
Even then, you don't really see anyone working in trash collection really bragging about it either on Linkedin.
You get the drift.

True, it is really nothing wrong or to be ashamed of.
If you ask me, this whole trash thing could be on its path to growing in the future; as one of the major industries, with the way our global situation is going.
Anyway, that is besides the point.

The idea and that whole thing about humiliation is just because of that entire perception of trash.
Trash is really as it is; trash.
Unwanted, useless, worthless, physical dirt and they stink.

It is down right filthy; and not something any of us would want to get our precious hands on.

We discard them from our homes, from our cars, shops, offices, so they are of no meaning to us.

There is no attachment or even practical use to us.
Not anymore.
That is why we won't even bother to take a second look at them.

But that scene of the woman going through the trash presented a different perspective.
It's not that I have never seen anyone searching through the dustbin before, but that is the whole situation.

What if Trash isn't really trash?

I'm sure we all know that; trash aren't essentially trash since they can be recycled and made useful again but that's not really my point.
I just want to take it a little deeper.

Look at it this way; it may be trash to us, but turn around, the minute we dump it into the bin, it could turn out to be of potential value to someone else.

Something we don't want or deemed useless, could be something which could turn to be useful and even precious to another.

That is a whole new perspective.


Sure, there's again those recyclers and folks who work in the environmental department who could definitely tell us all about the value of trash but at a simpler level, there are just some people who made it through their lives on trash.

Meaning; they lived on trash.
They thrived on it.
Trash is what they survived on.

That is what I meant.

Leftover food or food that had gone bad; we throw them away.
It could be the first; probably only taste another person who picks it up had in days.
Weeks, or months, even.
For all we know, they could be lurking and watched us while swallowing their hunger, waiting for us to throw it away.
The food we didn't want, could be the food they had prayed for in days.
Stale or rotten as they are.
It wasn't the appearance or the tastes that matter anymore; it was that taste to end the hunger.

Old clothes or ripped jeans which we do not want or even have no room for in our closet, we just toss them away, forgetting even when we had them.
They could be the new clothes someone happily puts on; a new change of clothes from the ones they had on for years; ones that they had never changed out of.
Simply because they don't have another to change into.
The pants could just fall off as they were just too loose, or the shirt could be too small for that older woman, but they don't care.
It was just like New Year's clothes for them.

Newspapers, cardboards, mattresses we discard to make way for the new ones could end up being the very foundation of someone's home to shelter them from rain.

Old dolls and toys casted aside because they are defaced or wrecked may instead be the new companions for a child whose parents sleep underneath the overhead bridge.

The list goes on.

We do not see that value once they are worn out beyond recognition and no longer please our expectations.
But someone else just might.

In fact, they could even be preying on dustbins; one after another, hoping to find something nice for themselves.

That value takes on a different meaning for these people.

There are two sides of a coin; but now even trash conceals more than just the recyclable or finding their way out of our homes.

It is a perspective of value.

What we may not value may just be of utmost value to another.

It is not about us not valuing our old stuffs or getting all sentimental or even hoarding these at home even when we no longer need them.
It is not healthy either to be holding on to things which we no longer see the use in our lives.
That's hoarding.

It is about understanding the value of each and everything around us, and how they are actually perceived.

It is also good to contribute to recyclable centers and give away old things to charity; homes for the aged and orphans, and the poor.

It is something we all know and even do, yet at the same time, it is just a routine thing without really taking in the value.

Try not thinking of it as really trash, but rather in a different perspective.
It would be joining the circle of recycling and may reduce the impact to the environment when lesser trees are cut or less chemicals harm the face of the earth.
It would be the source of income for someone looking to earn a living from selling the stuffs they pick from the dustbins.
It would even be a new addition to someone's day.

Whether we like it or not; aware of it or not, care or not, things like these are happening every second.

That scene of the woman rummaging through the trash was a haunting image.

It was not of her going through the trash that's haunting, but rather, the thought of people who could be thriving on what we deemed as trash is what tugs at the heart.

It is something to ponder about.

I don't want to say we are more fortunate, but we certainly have more blessings that we know.

For starter, we get to throw away stuffs we don't want or need while there are those who don't get to choose and wait on the other end for stuffs to be thrown at them so they could have them.

It's trash to us, but it's survival to them.
It could be life-changing.
It could even save a life.

And that's the little something we throw away, meaninglessly.

Now it's a different meaning altogether.

One man's trash could truly be another man's treasure


*Author's Note: 
This is not a sponsored/promotional post, and solely based on author's personal opinions and do not represent the general public. 
Experiences vary from one individual to another.
You do not have to agree with me.

Art Direction and Photography Styling by Me.
Photos/Videos all belong to me and are copyrighted.
Please kindly ask for permission if you need to use any of my images.

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