A thousand years from now, when aliens finally discover the husk of our planet, these are the things they will know about us from our garbage.
The wedding dress
The most important artifact in a woman’s life was her wedding dress. She spent days locating it, often commanding the time of friends and family in the search. She would then wear this dress once.
After that occasion, it would be carefully put away and stored in an air-conditioned temple, away from the bride’s home. These temples charged a monthly fee for the care of the dress, but temple priestesses stole a percentage of the dresses and sold them on a virtual platform called “Craigslist.”
Paper or plastic
There was a great debate about whether paper bags or plastic bags were more destructive of the planet, even though both contributed to the planet’s demise. The population became sharply divided into those who used disposable bags and art bags.
The art bags were carefully designed and crafted, durable bags made of fabric, often canvas, and sometimes string. Care was assigned to the colors and constructions of these bags, and some of them were even used to communicate life philosophies such as “Tread lightly” or “Leave only your footprints” or “Just say ‘neither.'”
Some people even created their own bags out of old clothing, especially an artifact called the “T-shirt.” These hand-crafted bags were highly regarded by their creators and sometimes given as gifts to the wrong people.
Everyone else used plastic bags which were, in general, used once and then discarded. These bags were often used to encase one item purchased from a store. While some store priestesses would ask customers whether they wanted a bag for one or two items, others dispensed the plastic bags with every purchase.
Some big store priestesses resented store pilgrims who brought art bags into big stores. If the pilgrim asked for “no bag,” the priestess would throw an unused plastic bag into the trash to register her disapproval of the art bag people.
Small, outdoor “farmers markets” emerged to give art bag people a place to shop where their bags were valued. Many people reviled these markets as “elitist” bastions of wealthy, bored white people.
Would you like some polystyrene with that coffee?
In the early twenty-first century, everyone knew how to make delicious coffee. There was an amazing array of coffee makers, from percolators to drip systems. Coffee could be made by the pot or by the cup. Arguments concerning the best coffee and the best way to make coffee took up a considerable amount of leisure time.
However, it was a sign of wealth and status to buy coffee away from home and receive it in a throwaway paper or polystyrene cup. Eventually, the production of these cups caused such wide spread deforestation that the earth’s oxygen crashed, killing three quarters of the people and wildlife.