top of page

Is littering how we save Earth?

Updated: Nov 6, 2022

Audio version available here

Brightly colored yellow, red, and green plastic shotgun shells contrast the brown forest floor they lay upon, scattered amongst the Earth. There is a fallen log in the background covered by bullet holes. There is also a round piece of shiny metal tattered with bullet holes.

When I first stumbled across the piles of bullet shells covering the forest floor, I was enraged 😡

How could humans be so careless, so numbed out in their relationship to Earth?

So disrespectful?

Trash is scattered along the brown forest floor. An opened cardboard box covered in bullet holes reads "Do all outdoors". There is an image of a gun target on the outside of the box. scattered alongside the destroyed cardboard box is crinkled up piece of paper covered in bullet holes that appears to have been used as target practice. There are a slew of red and white shotgun shells scattered alongside the debris. The shotgun shells have flat metal tips covering the long plastic tubes that once held the ammo.

As someone who fears guns, my mind made binary associations:

An infographic that reads: People who shoot guns = violent. People who don't shoot guns = peaceful.

So naturally, I feared that if one of these “violent” people spotted me in the forest squatting (instead of standing) to pee, they would find pleasure in hunting me down like an animal.

Killing for sport.

Hell, they might even be celebrated for eradicating “a transgender”.

Dehumanization has been an erasure tactic on these lands for centuries.

With these fears swirling around my head, I couldn’t take my shirt off to cool down in the creek or even pee without worrying about being hunted down to some stranger’s satisfaction. Justifying my non-normative body to indulge their disrespect for life.

But, then, it occurred to me - if they were to have thrown the bullet shells in the trash, the bullet shells would have just ended back up in the Earth anyways. The trash would have simply been transported to another portion of the Earth where it would later get buried…which would ultimately be even more wasteful, requiring the addition of fossil fuels.

an upclose shot of the forest floor is covered in different shades of brown dirt and sticks along with grey rocks. Mixed along the organic matter are scattered shotgun shells.

The way society segregates which piece of Earth is acceptable to pile our trash onto mirrors the way our relationships have become fragmented within Capitalism.

We’ve zoomed out the scales in which we live so much, that we now categorize Earth into clusters. This cluster is for trash, this cluster for soy, corn, wheat, etc. And, sure, mono-cropping makes it possible to feed people at mass scale, but it also makes it impossible to nourish the local community. Both, Earth and living beings require more than one source of energy to flourish. A community can’t thrive off of soy alone, especially when it’s doused in poisons. You know, pesticides.

An infographic that reads on the left side "this cluster we respect" showing an image of a U.S. government sign that says "Tonto National Forest" with red, rocky boulders emerging from the green Earth in the background. The right side reads "this cluster we dominate" showing an image of an open field where green crops are growing. There are a row of 10 humans wearing bright yellow plastic protective suits along with face coverings to protect them from the pesticides they're systematically spraying onto the Earth.

An infographic that read on the left side "This cluster we respect" showing an image of a green sign in a park that says "Please don't litter. Help keep your community clean." On the right side it reads "this cluster we dominate" showing a photo of a beautiful nature landscape with a cloudy blue sky the background with mountains and dozens of pelicans flying through the air. In the foreground is a big metal piece of machinery running over piles and piles of accumulated human trash ranging from bright yellows, reds, blues, oranges to black and white and green

When we operate at scales larger than what reflects our every day reality, we lose sight of each other. Because each component of life mirrors other components of life, when we become disconnected from each other, we’re also disconnected from ourselves, from Earth. Piling our trash onto her in clusters, keeps it “out of sight out of mind” because segmenting Earth into clusters doesn’t reflect the scale in which we live our lives.

Organizing our trash into cans to later be shoved into Earth for her to choke on feels no less violent than a Patriarchal porno. Instead of incubating more trash tumors, maybe if we dispersed our non-compostables, she would have a better chance of digesting our toxins. This is Human Supremacy in action.

An infographic reads "human supremacy" with the subline "systematic unequal distribution of power". Below there is an image of a triangle that shows the hierarchical rank in which power is distributed. At the top of the pyramid is "Human Life (from shades lightest to darkest)." The next rank below is "non-human animal life". The following rank below that is "plant life". And at the very bottom of the hierarchical pyramid is "earth".

To me, the most depressing part about Human Supremacy, is the lack of awareness most humans have about the way we have a dominator relationship with Earth. Our beloved home.

When we seek personal safety through collective systems of domination (Hetero-Patriarchal, Racial Capitalism), it’s easy to become numb to the impact of our actions. To the true nature of our relationships.


How does compartmentalizing the Earth reflect the way we compartmentalize ourselves?

Perhaps hiding our trash behind dark kitchen cabinets reflects the parts of ourselves we compartmentalize into the shadows. Subconsciously, we uplift the parts of us that care for Earth’s wellbeing while hiding the parts that contradict our view of ourselves into the shadows of our awareness. It’s simply too painful to accept the ways we contribute to collective suicide through participating in systems of domination.

Capitalism demands we censor authenticity in order to be “professional.” I’ve benefited so much from therapy, and at the same time therapy has it’s limitations when the person you’re sharing your soul with is hiding behind the mask of “professionality.” In my experience with the healing I provide others, being in authentic, loving relationship is more healing than a scripted interaction with a kind stranger. As if healing could be commodified.

When we can fully embrace all aspects of our humanity, when we don’t have to compartmentalize or code switch, we are integrated. Integration means living as if we are all interconnected in the universe. Cuz whether we’re aware of it or not, all of existence is interdependent. Fragmenting ourselves and our relationships with the world around us, fractures spirit.

When we’re not honest with ourselves about the impact of our consumption because it conflicts with the way we want to see ourselves, we are dis-integrated. Failing to acknowledge the ways we dominate Earth through our participation in hierarchical systems doesn’t make the violence of our actions disappear. Our violence simply goes unacknowledged because it conflicts with the fantasy of who we are.

What if our collective denial was a commitment to death? Are we so afraid of grieving the reality we participate in - so unwilling to accept what is instead of the fantasy of who we believe ourselves to be, that we are committed to global death through our actions?

What if the humans “littering” were actually in deeper relationship with Earth compared to us self-proclaimed environmentalists? Is disposing waste in an area outside of the designated trash cluster any less harmful than disposing waste inside one of the clusters?

A closeup image of the forest floor shows three red shotgun shells in the foreground with crumpled paper debris in the background.

What if littering was just a social construct? What if the people leaving their waste on Earth directly where they consumed it were simply more honest about the way they dominate Earth? And, ultimately, more honest about the way they see themselves?

What if hiding our waste, out of sight out of mind, was a reflection of the shame we hide behind around our collective disrespect for Earth? The parts of ourselves we can’t be with. The reality we reject. Perhaps, if instead of sweeping our shame under the rug, we laid our trash right where we consumed it, we would have a more authentic feedback loop. It would quickly become clear where we are over-consuming, needlessly wasting.

Perhaps “littering” could be one avenue for deepening relationship with Earth. For starters, we would grieve more on a daily basis. Maybe tripping over piles of our accumulated trash would motivate us to take action - divesting from plastics and poisons “as if” our lives depended on it.

What if we lived as if life were precious?

What would that look like?

How can we embody love for Earth with the understanding that the way we treat any being reflects the way we treat all beings? Ourself included.


Your relationship with Earth is a mirror

into your relationship with yourself.


As I leaned deeper into these curiosities, I started to feel safer in my environment littered with metal and plastic debris.

Opening my heart and mind helped me to lean into the faith that maybe these gun shooters weren’t so dangerous after all.

Maybe we were more alike than I realized.

I chose to let my guard down and trust people I had never seen or met - only heard the echos from their metal explosions.

Choosing trust helped me to release tension, to free my body…


Stay Tuned for part 2:

Queer Liberation in Trump Nation

Coming soon

33 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page