The Trashman and Faithful Companion are about to say farewell to summer at Fire Island. This year, many beach goers are saying farewell to an unwelcome feature of summer 2020–the ubiquitous and stringently mandated mask that protects us from the covid virus when we’re not socially distancing. Those masks are now litter, and not the kind the Trashman can easily pick up.
They’re everywhere. In trees. On boardwalks. On sand dunes. In tidal pools. The urge to divest these annoying accessories is understandable. But protect yourself, and protect us all, by placing them in trashcans. Simple.
The Trashman’s faithful companion has a friend in Charlotte, NC, who is an avid litter de-bugger. Recently Miss Charlotte organized a unique way to celebrate holidays and call attention to the ever increasing problem of plastic consumption. On Easter Sunday, she unveiled her Trash Rabbit, made entirely of familiar household items, the kind all of us use every day–and shouldn’t.
Trash Rabbit got a lot of attention. Local television stations eagerly covered her handiwork. She even got a 60 second spot on the evening news. But she was left with the question Trashman has been asking himself for a long time. What good does making whimsical sculptures out of trash actually do? Can a Trash Rabbit convince people not to use plastic? Or will people simply see plastic as a free, abundant medium for artists, crafters and kids…not the toxic, serious treat it actually is? The answer, like most questions these days, depends on you.
Because of the covid virus, Trashman and Faithful Companion have been on lockdown with the rest of the world–doing their part to flatten the curve. Instead of looking down at the ground for trash, Trashman has been looking up at the skies. He can’t help but notice how blue they are.
The return of vivid color in the heavens is directly linked to the dramatic drop in air, vehicle and truck traffic these days. A way to stop global warming is right in front of us. The solution couldn’t be clearer.
A FEW WORDS, A FEW DOODLES…
The Trashman and Faithful Companion once again visited the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton. The museum recently received a gift of many Saul Steinberg drawings, sculptures and mixed media work. Everyone knows Steinberg, even if they don’t. He’s the cartoonist who drew the famous picture of America in which the Manhattan skyline dwarfs everything west of the Big Apple. Trashman spotted this little gem about (dare he say it? Oh go ahead, say it…) Trump-style development. Steinberg made the drawing in 1966. A lot hasn’t changed. A lot should.
THE PARTY’S NOT OVER…
The Trashman and Faithful Companion are not shy. They party with the best of them, especially during the summer at their home on Fire Island. But they shun the usual celebratory decorations: plastic cups, plastic streamers, plastic straws, plastic bags–and, of course, the ubiquitous plastic balloons.
Balloons are the number one enemy of marine life. Sadly, party people release them into the air at the end of the evening, forget them or leave them on the beach where they are swept into the ocean and eventually end up in the stomachs of birds and fish. And that’s it for the birds and the fish. Balloons seem so festive, but they become silent killers in our oceans, choking wildlife, cutting off air supplies. Faithful Companion and Trashman found these balloons last month. They picked them up. You should too.
THEY’RE TRASHMEN, LITTER-ALLY…
The Trashman and his Faithful Companion are connoisseurs of art made from garbage. They have looked at hundreds and hundreds of works, from the infinitesimal to the monumental, and it turns out that big actually is better. “Trash art has to be big to have an impact… because, well, trash as a problem is really, really big,” Faithful observed the other day in her charming and succinct way. Trashman thinks she’s on to something.
When it comes to big, German sculptor Ha Schult gives new meaning to that ironically small three-letter word. Schult creates life-size eco-warriors made out of crushed cans, computer parts, bottles and other discards. He places armies of them against well-known backdrops like the pyramids in Egypt and the Great Wall in China. He has made fully furnished beach houses from litter, and triumphal sculptures from old cars for the Cologne town center.
Visitors who see Schult’s work in person, or in photographs, can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of trash that goes into each installation. Where does it come from? Hummmm…. that, indeed, is the question.
And you know the answer.
GOING THE DISTANCE
Among other things to numerous to mention, The Trashman is an expert on trains. Not model trains, or toy trains, but real trains. He and Faithful Companion have visited most of the major rail systems in the world, including Istanbul, Budapest, Russia, and of course, the United States. The one thing all trains have in common is trash. Everyday hundreds of laborers in the global universe spend thousands of hours picking up tons of garbage left behind by slothful passengers. Only Singapore railroads and subways are trash-free, and that’s because the punishment for littering in that country is public flogging–something Faithful considers entre nous “a good idea.”
And where does all that trash go? The irony isn’t lost on Trashman that the garbage removed from trains is usually placed on other trains for transport to landfills. It’s an eternal cycle: trash in trains, trash out of trains, trash in trains. The cycle could end so easily if…well, you know,…if people just stopped littering. Until then, as the Trashman says, things are picking up.