Ethics

For the week ending 25 November 2006 / 4 Kislev 5767

Trash Toting Tots

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Question: In my neighborhood, garbage is placed in, and collected from, large bins centrally located. I recently passed near such a bin and observed a little boy quickly walking away from it after placing a smelly bag of garbage on the street because he could not reach the opening of the bin. I was very upset at this sight and would like to know what was the right thing to do.

Answer: We can assume that you did your civic duty of tossing that bag of garbage into the bin, and your question relates to what you can do to prevent the recurrence of such an unpleasant mess.

It is understandable for a busy homemaker with a family to sometimes desperately rely on a tot to tote the overflowing trash can to the public bin. But a child is only a child, and such reliance borders on irresponsibility.

If you are aware of the identity of the family to which that child belongs the right thing to do is to call to the attention of the parents, either personally or by letter, what you witnessed, and to impress upon them the need to be more careful in how the child disposes of the disposables. It might also be a good idea to bring this matter to the attention of the local rabbi who could include in one of his public talks some guidance in this matter.

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