“Where does that stuff go?”

It must have been a powerful lesson, because it’s still with me nearly five decades after I first learned it – as a kid watching Sesame Street!

One of the Muppet characters had dirt on their hands and wanted to get rid of it. “Just wash your hands,” the other Muppets suggested. The first Muppet did, and the dirt was believed to be gone – until one of the other Muppets shrieked, “But the dirt is now on the SOAP!” A discussion followed, and it was decided that the soap should be wiped with a cloth. “But the dirt is now on the CLOTH!” And so it went: the dirt didn’t go away, it just went elsewhere.

That message stuck with me because, in a world of ‘out of sight, out of mind’, the reality is that few things truly go away; most just go elsewhere. The trash we put out at the curb. The pollutants that come out of tailpipes or smokestacks. The deodorants we apply to our skins.

Or this: perhaps you’ve seen recent TV ads where a cheerful young lady advises that you can keep your clothes smelling as fresh as washday for as long as 12 weeks if you simply dump a handful of scent booster beads into your washer. So where do those beads go? Well, there are only two ways out of a washer: with the drain water or with the washed clothes. No problem if those beads were made of organic ingredients that biodegrade naturally and quickly – but when they include chemicals with names like 2-Hexene, 6,6-Dimethoxy-2,5,5-Trimethyl, I suppose we might be wise to wonder: “Where does that stuff go?” The same could be asked about chemical air fresheners designed to be inhaled. 

So what to do? Why not try to keep the question, “Where does this stuff go?” top-of-mind when evaluating the products that come into our lives and the waste that we generate. And if the answer makes you uneasy, why not strive to make a difference by changing your purchasing habits?

Because in our precious, fragile, finite world, few things truly go away; most just go elsewhere.

In the news

A new NASA study finds that climate change will start impacting our global supply of corn and wheat as early as 2030.

Six charts that show why climate change is a justice issue.

Here’s a first look at Canada’s largest solar farm, now under construction in Canada’s sunbelt – southern Alberta.


“The ceiling of the possible is constantly rising.”- Kingsmill Bond, October 13, 2021 (from a really uplifting interview about the unstoppable future of clean energy).

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