What is Trash?

Kids ask a lot of hard questions – like how do babies get inside mommy’s tummy, or why do you get to eat cookies for dinner and I don’t?  I have had my fair share of tough conversations with The Munch, but I usually feel somewhat confident with the answer I am giving her.  I may not know everything, but I also know I am always right.

Then it happened.  My 3-year-old child asked me a question I had no idea how to answer.

The Munch was helping me clean up the kitchen, and grabbed an empty container of raspberries to throw out.  This may sound extreme, but in my kitchen I have 5 “waste” baskets.  One for glass, plastic, tinfoil/cans, paper, and trash.  They are usually in the same order, but for some reason they got switched around and The Munch almost put the plastic raspberry container in the trash.

Toni: Oh wait sweetie… that is the trash.  Put that in the one to the left – the plastic bin.

Munch:  Mom, what’s trash?

Toni: What do you mean?

Munch: Like what is trash? What goes in here? The trash one?

I had NO EFFING CLUE how to answer that question. What the hell is trash?  Shouldn’t we be able to recycle everything?  All discarded food we either compost, or feed to the chickens.  (Unless it is leftover chicken, in which case I give it to my dog to avoid unintentional cannibalism).  What other materials are there besides plastic, aluminum, glass, and paper? I guess there is plutonium, or nuclear waste – but I didn’t have any of those in my trash, so why the fuck was it full?

Toni: Uhhhhhh trash is stuff you can’t recycle.

Munch: I don’t understand.  What can’t you recycle?

Toni: I don’t know. Ummmm.  You know that fuzzy stuff that is in the dryer filter when we do laundry? That weird purpley-grey woolly material I have to peel off that screen? I am pretty sure you can’t recycle that.

Munch: But that is not the only thing that is in the trash? What else is in there?

Toni: I guess the stuff you are supposed to be able to recycle but can’t.

Munch: I don’t get it.

Toni: Neither do I.