We Broke the Earth and Didn't Keep the Receipt

Yes, separate the recycling.

“My roommate doesn’t like separating out trash and recycling. What can I do to change their mind?” —Earth Angie


We’ve done some horrible things to this planet. Burned up tons of fossil fuels. Threw dinosaurs into the tar pits. Made those ridiculous McDLT styrofoam packages. Because heaven forbid your Cheeseburger heated up the tomato and lettuce a little too much. We needed to keep them separated and now there’s probably a white melted styrofoam island the size of Nebraska out in the Atlantic Ocean of those that will be here when the new zombie dinosaurs roam again. Humans by then will be long gone. And the planet will probably be better off for it. We’ve ridden it hard and it could really use a break today.

It’s hard to see the scenes from Texas and Houston and not feel despair that we’ve irreparably harmed our planet. When a 500-year flood drowns a major metropolitan city, it’s kind of like a zombie dragon melting a 500-foot ice wall. You think to yourself, “Surely we could have avoided this somehow, just by being smart and thinking ahead.” Humans really have to be forced to think ahead and act smart. It doesn’t come naturally. Instead, we’re inventing things like the CD long box. See, when records started to be replaced by CDs, all the record stores had these big long ridiculous record-sized display cases. So they put plastic jewel cases into tall thin boxes. Then we wrapped the boxes in plastic wrap. We sold billions of CDs worldwide this way. When you look out your window and see cataclysmic superstorms, think of all of those dead long boxes, rising up to destroy us like the Army of the Dead.

I always try to make myself feel better about global warming and extinction-level planetary events by pretending that perhaps someday humans will figure out a magic laser that will, POOF, solve all of the world’s problems. This is at once possible and impossible, like a cat in a dark box sucking on its own junk. We’ll be too busy inventing things we can microwave that have lots of weird plastic pieces and wrappers. And those wrappers eventually will find their way to the ocean and will eventually choke a dolphin out. There’s no laser out there that can unchoke a dead dolphin. I also like to think that time travellers will come back and help us stop this global warming and pollution stuff with us. But it turns out time travellers are total dicks and spend most of their time making out with Henry VIII for some reason. What good are you, time travellers? I thought you would have saved us from this whole Trump thing. But every morning I wake up with a sore throat and the world is still screwed.

Will separating the recycling actually help save the world? It probably won’t not. We have had a positive effect on our environment. All downtown cities used to be smoggy, now it’s only like Los Angeles. We saved the whales. Now they’re hunting in huge packs. The little things we do save butterflies fluttering on the noses of Buddhist monks half a world away. But we’ve done a whole lot of damage, and smartest guy I can think of Stephen Hawking says we need a new planet. Right now there are no planets with Eiffel Towers, Chipotles or Yosemite National Parks. But maybe we could take those things with us. We’d probably destroy that new planet, too. But let’s try to stay positive here, people.

I do like helping to save the Earth in small ways. I do not like getting yelled at because I put the Pepsi Clear bottle in the garbage instead of the recycling. I have seen recycling centers. They are usually next to landfills. They look like landfills. They smell like landfills. I am not entirely sure they aren’t landfills. In general, we should be nicer to each other and meaner to giant faceless corporations that routinely destroy the Earth for funsies and profit. I didn’t spill 9 billion tons of oil until the Gulf of Mexico. I’m only mildly complicit in the crimes against Mother Earth.

You and I are humans. We will probably have to share a flight to Alpha Centauri one day, packed like sardines into a broken intergalactic sardine can rocket. We’re all in this together! Until we build robots that are way more fun than people. So stop giving me a hard time about not knowing that you can’t just roll drums of chromium into the Passaic River. I’m doing the best I can in a crazy world. I sometimes think people recycle just so they can go around bragging about it. OK, cool, you recycle. Now move to a hut out in the woods and survive on just fallen bark, Unabomber.

All roommate situations are a little tense. You can just quietly sneak behind them and transfer whatever you imagine is recyclable from trash bags to recycling bags. This will totally make you feel like some kind of superhero. I used to buy toilet paper without the cardboard roll on the inside and I felt like Gandhi. You suck all the joy out of this life you can. Then hopefully you live on eternally as a soulless robot on a planet of just volcanos. The future is bright with exploding suns!


Image: Nattu via Flickr