Today I discard an average of two 4-gallon garbage bags of waste per week plus two containing wine and water bottles. Add a cardboard box or two per month. This means that I carry four tiny bags of refuse to the cassonetti each week on my way to the market. Nulla. This equates to 16 gallons of trash per week versus 100 per week in California.
In America I thought of garbage differently. In fact I didn't really think of it at all. It's just a part of the American hoard-it-in, dump-it-out routine. You stuff the SUV with over rated, oversized crap from COSTCO, Big Lots and Sam's Club and then you roll out the gargantuan garbage cans on Monday and Thursday nights. Clockwork. That's how you get to know your neighbors. Over garbage.
In California, you buy a house depending on the number of cars, bikes and garbage cans, not the number of human beings in your household. Easy formula: If you have 2 cars, you buy a house with a 3 car garage, 2 spaces for the cars and one space for the garbage cans.
Is that the American mentality? I never realized that I was one of "them". When I came here, I perceived my endearing Italian ancestors to be overly-anal about conserving, packing, storing and avoiding waste of any sort. Mamma mia, I am now one of these "them", not those "them" anymore! Most people here don't even buy garbage bags, we use the bags that our merchants give us at the daily market.
The last time I was in New York, my brother sent me to the supermarket to help with the shopping and asked me to pick up some large garbage bags. I was aghast to see the overwhelming array of choices. When I returned, he proceeded to give me a lecture on garbage bag characteristics. I quickly told him to quit, I don't give a damn.
So what's to blame? Obviously American garbage is the result of American consumerism. We "have to have". More stuff, more is better, until we quickly tire of it and have to dump it and replace it with new stuff. For me it was an illness. Spoiled by my own success, I perceived consumerism as a positive result of my labors...after all, I was entitled. I have happily overcome this compulsion. I buy less, use less and discard less. I spend the money and the time stroking myself by being with the people and doing the things that I love. What a sense of freedom!