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A mountain of garbage

There have been some good things happen because of the pandemic. Families, those who live together, have spent more time together. Parents have been held accountable for their children’s education. That was sure an eyeopener for some of them. I am sure that parents were not prepared for this. Some struggled with the basics. Their children had homework and they were responsible for teaching the skills – not in the same way the teacher would have taught them I am sure, but nevertheless, they taught them.

Another good feature is that people cooked a lot more than they were used to. That probably meant that their meals were healthier. Although if they bought the prepackaged stuff that may not necessarily be the case. At one point when I went to the store there was no frozen pizza. That told me what a lot of people were eating.

Another good thing is that families did not spend as much money on gasoline. They were not going out as much. After all, many of the parents were working at home. There was no transportation cost. My daughter said it felt funny to get out of bed, eat breakfast, then return to her bedroom to work. It did not matter what she had on either. There is no dress code for working from home.

I tried to attend a meeting on Zoom. They could either see me or hear me. I chose for them to hear my voice so that I could contribute. One of the people we tried to interview could not get on Zoom at all. She lives out like we do. She ended up calling in for the interview.

The Internet in these parts is certainly not what it is in the cities. When my grandson was interviewed for the newspaper for his senior year, they asked him what he learned during the pandemic. He said he learned that the Internet does not work when everyone in the family is trying to use it to do their work. That made me laugh because I had already experienced that as well.

Now, does the good outweigh the bad? Thousands of people are out of jobs. Bills are not able to be paid. Even food is a luxury in some cases. Many of the small businesses that closed will never reopen. Please remember that those same small businesses provide jobs for many. The big box stores have made a killing since they were the only stores that were allowed to open.

Since the pandemic began, the waste generated has gone out of sight. When restaurants were not allowed to open, they served take-out only. Think of all of the trash that created that had to go to the landfill. I was impressed last night when I worked at our church dinner. All of the containers were biodegradable so we did not contribute to the garbage.

Then, there are the hospitals and other medical facilities. Everything has to be disposable. Masks were thrown away. Cover-ups were thrown away. Anything that was used by a patient had to be thrown out. Truthfully, I am not sure how the landfills are handling all of this. I know the manufacturers have been busy making all of the supplies. At least those people have had work. That also meant that their suppliers had work. The truck drivers who delivered the materials to them as well as those who delivered the products have all been working.

I noticed yesterday that the shelves were fully stocked with hand sanitizer. That means that all of those bottles go to the landfill as well. I think I have expressed my feelings about hand sanitizer before but I will express them again here. I do not use hand sanitizer unless I cannot get to soap and water. That is what my family has always used to get clean. No need for the artificial products with all of the chemicals that our bodies do not need.

When I am out shopping, I wash as soon as I get home. I also wash after I have put everything away.

That being said, my immunity is pretty good after spending years in the classroom. When I substituted, I went into a classroom that someone who was sick left. I did not take any extraordinary precautions. In my own classroom, I never knew where those little hands had been. Although I was careful, I knew that I came in contact with a lot of germs. My body reacted accordingly. I picked up immunity.

That is the thing that concerns me the most during this pandemic. How are we ever going to pick up any immunity is we are behind masks? Our bodies are programmed to create the cells to fight off disease. As for the masks that are being worn, there are drawbacks there as well. People are not disposing of them as they should. Masks are to worn and thrown away. Are we doing that? Are we washing our clothing each time we come home? Are we sanitizing everything that comes into the home. How about your mail? Do you sanitize before you open it? We cannot live germ free. We have to learn how to live with the germs around us. Our bodies heal themselves when they are healthy.

I had a book when I taught school that was about living efficiently. Every day we spent a few minutes on these ideas. I called them “green minutes”. The children learned a lot about how we are living. They were amazed about the amount of garbage that was created by a family of four. They were amazed by the amount of water that was used by that same family. We definitely need to learn to control what we use and how we use it.

Recycling was a way of life on the farm. We recycled everything we could. We had our own wells, so we controlled our own water use. We had septic systems that controlled our waste. No one wanted the septic system to be overwhelmed.

We took care of our own garbage. We composted what we could and limited the amount that we had to get rid of. We even crushed our cans!

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell. Contact at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.

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