Waste is not just another word for trash. It’s a place, abandoned, uninhabitable and barren; as an action, it means the destruction, withering away, and purposeless consumption of something (or someone) valuable; as an adjective, it describes something rendered useless. We have waste grounds and waste lands. We waste our time, or our money, or ourselves. When we’re sick, we waste away. At war, we lay waste.
One of the wildflower guides that I use describes the location in which some plants grow as “waste places,” while another refers to the same type of terrain as “disturbed.” Both names evoke a sense of wrongness and unease. Biologically, ecologically, environmentally, this feeling of wrongness is absolutely correct. The plants that grow in these places are “alien,” “non-native,” and even “invasive.” Why would I want to have anything to do with a wasted, disturbed space full of aliens, like these?
I’m not sure. (But maybe it’s because of these very same aliens, or, as I like to call them, wasteflowers). At any rate, I go, and make the best of the disturbance and waste, which, as a human, I am responsible for in the first place. I clean what I can, appreciate what I can, and hope for the best. We cannot undo everything that we’ve created and destroyed, but that doesn’t mean we should waste it, either.
UPDATE: For a comprehensive guide to invasive (not simply non-native) plants of the mid-atlantic see this guide by the National Park Service:
Click to access midatlantic.pdf
6 thoughts on “Waste”
I am so moved by this multi-dimensional discussion of waste. It is an invitation to look twice when we encounter “waste” and see the Beloved.
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Thank you, Julie.
Thanks for this nuanced and profound post. I have been thinking a lot lately about introduced species of plants (and animals too). I had been thinking that the situation is complex, but you have taken it much deeper than that.
Yes, you have your own wonderful alien birds, don’t you? Those doves are beautiful.
We do have alien bird species, and some of them do displace indigenous species. However, all the species of dove I have featured on my blog are indigenous species.
Reblogged this on ReBirth: The Pursuit of Porsha.