Ask Me About My Grandchildren
When I was travelling on a very low budget, I ate out of dumpsters a lot. My travelling companion and I knew it was part of the deal before we began. We'd done it before. People are disgusted when I tell them that, or they become fascinated. "But didn't you...get sick?" I haven't yet, not physically.
I get sick of the idea of a country, a planet even, being poisoned by abundance and waste. Think of garbage bags and the fact that there are factories that produce and package them, and trucks and planes to haul them, and people constantly working on hot new garbage bag designs. These products exist to be thrown away.
Once, going through a health food store dumpster in Sarasota, Florida, we pulled out boxes of organic cookies in slightly crumpled boxes, produce a silly millimeter too ugly to sell, and literally sacks of some kind of carrot-based bread. A Mennonite man pedaled up on his bicycle, and we went slightly on guard, as we always did around strangers who caught us in such a vulnerable position. After we explained to him that we weren't in desperate need but just hated to see the waste of edible food, he told us about how much he and his family were able to do with the carpet remnants the furniture store threw away. "There's a time coming when people won't be able to throw so much away," he said. "They won't be able to live like this." We agreed.
In my utopia, people won't kill themselves with stress and worry, or kill each other with pollution or starvation wages, or kill animals for the sheer joy of the taste of those animals' flesh. People won't pay exorbitant amounts of money for junk food and junk amusement only to throw it away and put a lock on the garbage.
No one will hoard houses standing empty in the dead of winter or summer's heat -- not if people need those houses. We will use the buildings we already have rather than clearing (clearing is just a pleasant euphemism for further destruction of the ecosystem) more land and using more resources to make more buildings. We will tear up unnecessary (read: most) pavement, and nurture the seeds that have been trapped there in the dark and under pressure for so long.
Ask me about my grandchildren in my utopia, and I won't shudder at the thought of bringing more generations into the world. I won't have to wonder how they'll manage to function if they have to breathe smog and other greenhouse gases. I won't have to worry about cancer cells growing within them and killing them. They may never see a garbage bag, in utopia.
My grandchildren won't call themselves "vegan" either. When I try to explain the meaning of the term, they will roll their eyes at me. Why would you need a special word for that? That's just called living.
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