"Litter" cans new to Xavier
The garbage cans around campus all have the word "litter" on them. As in, "this is where litter goes." The garbage
can, however, is literally the only place that litter absolutely
cannot go – it would stop being litter. Every single piece of
"litter" to ever exist has only been known to do so under
one very specific condition: that it gets put anywhere except
a garbage can. Upon deeper consideration, this misnomer
is quite a profound error. Just think; whoever made this label
could have written the word "litter" on literally anything else
in the entire universe, anything at all other than a garbage can, and he/she would have written it somewhere that litter could potentially go. Instead, they labeled the one receptacle that it can't go, ever. Can anything be said of this?
There's an interesting element of Catholic philosophy called
transubstantiation. It explains how a pretty normal cracker
gets transformed into the body of Christ without changing in
appearance, or smell, or anything whatsoever. It's as profound as turning a frog into a prince, and as simple as a priest's wave of the hand. It also seems to explain what happens to our McDonalds bags at the moment we put them
in a garbage can, rather than tossing them out the window. We're like priests, really, when it comes to waste disposal. When it breaks the plane of the receptacle, our waste stops being litter and instead becomes garbage. It does this without changing physically at all. Even more incredibly, that
no physical change takes place stands to be true even at the
molecular level. Perhaps whoever decided to label these garbage cans with the word "litter" has never indulged in wafers of the celestial variety. Some of us, not I, ran substantiate bread into divine flesh. More of us however, and this includes me, transubstantiate litter into garbage. It's empowering. We dispose of waste correctly when we perform this trick, or so it seems, no matter how much of it
there was. Not anymore, however, if this new label has anything to say about it. The unmistakable irony of the label requires that we question what exactly makes garbage different from litter. This proves to be an interesting and somewhat troubling question. Is it simply because an object has been placed in a receptacle that it is called "garbage" instead of "litter?" This difference, practically speaking, is surprisingly shallow. We see this when we consider that by calling something "garbage" as opposed to "litter" we are really only referring to where the thing ends up, and how. Garbage, in other words, will end up being carried off to join a large pile of other garbage, while litter on the other hand, ends up absolutely anywhere – you name it – as long as it's not a garbage can. Garbage, like litter, still just ends up sitting there, wherever "there" might be. At least I'm pretty sure this will remain true until we have figured out a way to
delete plastic products from the world. One telling difference
is that garbage usually ends up sitting "there," and litter tends
to sit somewhere closer to "here." Practically speaking,
there's little more difference between the two terms than that. The difference is more geographical, and in that
sense most likely grounded in aesthetic appeal. For example,
consider this hypothetical situation: If we were to travel
to the nearest garbage dump, and just before walking through the gate we were to drop a gum wrapper on the ground, which label – garbage or litter – is now appropriate for that gum wrapper? Mind you, this would me and that it has ended up no more than fifty yards or so from an enormous pile of waste that most of us would call "garbage"
– and that absolutely nobody would call "litter." The gum
wrapper would be uncharacteristically close to the designated spot that we, as a society, have deemed appropriate for garbage. Yet, it's not garbage; it's litter.
Why? Because we didn't put it in a garbage can. On Xavier's
campus, though, the winds have shifted with the rebranding of trashcans as "litter cans." Our waste now remains,
despite our best attempts at transubstantiation, litter
– and there's nothing we can do about it. We can't pretend
there's a difference between the terms anymore. The label
is more than just ironic, it's semantically binding! Words are, in these types of cases, incredibly unforgiving.
Get Top Stories Delivered Weekly
From Around the Web
Recent The Xavier University Newswire News Articles
Discuss This Article
GET TOP STORIES DELIVERED WEEKLY
FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER
LATEST THE XAVIER UNIVERSITY NEWSWIRE NEWS
- Unknown Mortal Orchestra's II
- Bullet to the Head misses its target
- Casual Vacany leaves the reader feeling unfulfilled
- Songs in the Key of... "LOVE" : Players' new show to be annual event
- Respect yourself first
- The future of Xavier
- An inside look into an English professor's academic conferences and conventions
RECENT THE XAVIER UNIVERSITY NEWSWIRE CLASSIFIEDS
FROM AROUND THE WEB
- Wondering if it's Time to Buy a New Car? Just Check Your...
- Smartphone to Become Wallet -- Are Customers, Businesses...
- Grandparents, Keep Your Meds Up and Away From Young Children
- As Insurers End Coverage for Compounded Drugs, Patients...
- 4 Tips to Start Your Day a Little Earlier
- Join the Force to Fight Lung Cancer in Women
- If You Want to Help Avoid Back Problems, Stop Slouching
- Common-Sense Strategies From a Natural Marketing Guru
- 10 Steps to Help Older Adults Prevent Slips, Trips and Falls
- Stay Cool for Next to Nothing: Power Down the AC on...
COLLEGE PRESS RELEASES
- Over 2,000 Groups Prepare to “Hit the Streets” with Volunteers and Celebrities for National Voter Registration Day on September 23, 2014
- Peace Corps Director Calls on College Students to Make a Difference After Graduation Through International Service
- USA NETWORK AND VERIZON LAUNCH THE “CHARACTERS UNITE COLLEGE TOUR” COMPETITION FOR STUDENTS TO BRING A USA NETWORK CELEBRITY AND A WORTHY CAUSE TO THEIR CAMPUS
- WHEN GEORGIA SMILED: THE ROBIN MCGRAW REVELATION FOUNDATION TEAMS WITH PIVOT AND STUDENTS OF THE WORLD TO LAUNCH THE #iASPIRE GRANT CONTEST
- Latino Groups Launch National Campaign to Deliver Record Latino Turnout for 2014 Midterm Elections