Away is a Place

Today is trash day at my house. The big green trucks will spend a noisy couple of hours circling the neighborhood this morning, and then we’ll all pull our empty bins back in to fill them up again.

This has always struck me as a little bit miraculous. I grew up helping my parents take the garbage to the town disposal facility, and the weekly dump run quickly became one of my chores as soon as I could drive.

But in neither case do I know where the garbage goes after it leaves — whether by Mom’s minivan or the big green truck. We just throw it “away.”

Every economy, from the human body to a municipality to a “global” society, generates some waste as a byproduct of its function. And all of that waste has to go somewhere, to be dealt with somehow.

I once heard someone sum this up in the phrase “Away is a place.” I’d add that there are people there, too.

Out of sight, out of mind might turn out not to be a miracle at all. Or, if it is a miracle, it’s one of mindlessness — another way in which it’s easy to not see the people and places that make up The Economy beyond our own households.