Grade 6, Oak Hill Middle School, Newton Centre
Paul Lyons, Russel Hunt, Tierney Leary, Teachers
The Lonely Wastebasket
He sat nearly empty, he felt the shallow layer of trash hit against his
wicker walls. But his woven outside could not hide the emptiness within. Constantly he would find himself wondering what a wastebasket like himself could be used for when the people in his household flushed most of their trash down their toilet. He wanted to tell them to stop, to use him instead. This was not out of jealousy, (wastebaskets are beyond such trivial emotions) he truly wanted to help his humans. But like all other wastebaskets he could not talk. He watched them throw hair, floss, tissues, wipes and diapers from their baby down the toilet. Once he even saw them flush a squashed bug. What would make them think it was harmless, he could not understand. Was it really more convenient? Every time he saw them flushing trash down the toilet he wanted to tell them the consequences, like polluting the environment, harbor and marine life for example. Or what happened in London when an enormous amount of grease from restaurants and baby wipes got stuck in the pipes under the city. He wanted them to know about the infectious diseases that could be spread because of their careless plunder, hurting people and animals. Nearly every day they would be adding to the build up in the pipes, when they could be using him and not wasting so much water and causing so much trouble. He wished he could tell them. This went on for a long time,( he didn't know exactly how long, wastebaskets don't measure time in years like you or me) Until one day the oldest child, a girl by the name of Emma came home in a flurry of excitement. "Mom look at what I wrote!" she handed her mother the manuscript and began to bounce from foot to foot, as her mother read the following:
Little kids flush toys down the toilet,
Not knowing they could spoil it,
but older people should know were some things should not go,
the problem is that they don't care,
they just want it to go some where,
trash belongs in trash cans were it can't get stuck,
instead of in the pipes where it can build up,
As feeble as the rhymes were, her mother was proud of it, but she was infinitely prouder of what Emma said next, and so was the wastebasket.
"Mom, I want us to stop throwing our trash in the toilet, we're researching pollution and why its bad to flush trash, in school so I think we should stop." Emma said earnestly.
"Oh I know, I agree, it's a horrible habit," her mother said, giving her daughter a one armed hug.
Meanwhile, Ricky had snuck into the bathroom to flush candy wrappers, slyly looking over his shoulder. "Mom can't find them now!" he whispered in a relieved tone after he had flushed the "evidence" away. A little while after he had left, Rosy wobbled in. Rosy's dimpled arms were cradling half a dozen toys, her eyes alight with excitement and curiosity. Very systematically the two year old dropped the toys into the water in the toilet. Cramming them all in so the topmost toy, Ricky's old toy car, was only partly submerged. With a childish giggle Rosy pulled the lever. If the wastebasket could groan he would have. A few days later while Emma was working on her homework, her mother was complaining over the phone to Emma's father.
"...Jack, you can't imagine our plumbing bill, ..... uh .. ha .. exactly ... Emma was just talking about that ... no I agree, we should use trash cans more. I'm afraid our plumbing bill is going up because of
us flushing unflushable things ..... No Rosy's baby wipes say they're flushable but they're not. yes ... exactly ... They say they're biodegradable but they are mislabeled ..... ok .... yes .... ok. Bye"
Emma's mother put down the phone and turned to Emma "how much do you know about flushing things down the toilet versus putting it in the trash can, can it for example effect plumbing bills?"
"Um ... it can." Emma replied. The wastebasket sighed they were finally figuring it out. Slowly things began to change and the wastebasket began to fill up. It didn't happen overnight, breaking a bad habit rarely ever does. But gradually the wastebasket became full and never again did he go empty. The lonely wastebasket was happy at last.
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