Rambling about Privileged Americans, Social Boundaries & Recycling
We Americans are a proud and privileged people but whether many of us have earned this heightened status is up for debate. Our position as a world power was really built during the world wars when we produced many of the goods and weapons needed during the battles in Europe & Africa. This country was built on our ability to manufacture products for other countries, but America has moved away from being the world producer of goods. NAFTA didn’t help matters any. Many American companies now have their products (and services) handled by factories in foreign countries.
Even with our economy as bad as it is, people still flock here from other countries in search of a better life. The difference between those of us who were born here and the new Americans is that Newbies will do whatever it takes to get by and are not hindered by false pride.
There was a blog earlier this summer that made freshly pressed which had to do with picking wild blackberries (in the U.K.) and how some people would prefer to buy them in the store rather than pick them on a roadside bush or someone’s hedgerow.
I was reminded of this story last weekend when I went to do my weekly shopping and saw and obviously “new” American picking crab apples off of one of the landscape trees. I was tempted to ask him how he cooked them (Apple sauce? Jelly?), but didn’t want to interrupt or embarrass him. I guarantee you that the majority of “old” Americans would never consider doing this no matter how hungry they were.
It’s not just about food either. We are a disposable society in all senses of the word. I do think people are more careful these days and many donate to thrift stores when they can, but a good deal of useable items wind up on the trash heap all the same. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve pulled a thing or two off the curb on trash day and if I couldn’t use it myself, I’d share with someone who could. I pulled a perfectly good charcoal grill and storage basket from curbs in my neighborhood and the people I gave them to were glad to have them.
Maybe it’s just the way I was raised but I don’t mind using someone else’s castoffs. I cut my teeth at yard sales, flea markets and antique shows. I went digging in old trash piles with my grandparents – looking for old bottles and other treasures that had been buried long ago. If I knew I could make at least my current salary by dumpster diving and selling the stuff on eBay or Craigslist, I’d do it in a heartbeat.
It’s pretty satisfying to resurrect something and give it value again. People are getting around to embracing thrift and recycling but we’ve been a wealthy nation for such a long time. Things would have to get a whole lot worse from people to get over their squeamishness about “trash”, thrift stores and eating leftovers.
May you have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving Day. Remember how blessed you are to live in the greatest nation in the world. Try, if you can, to share some of your prosperity with those less fortunate than you (I will too) and remember to think twice before you put something out on the curb – call your local Goodwill / Purple Heart / Amvets. Someone will be able to use your old stuff and our landfills would benefit from a diet.