A bear pokes its head out of the greenery along Glacier Highway on June 13, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

A bear pokes its head out of the greenery along Glacier Highway on June 13, 2021. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)

Slack Tide: Garbage bear talks trash

This bear says more than “Grr…”But he says that, too.

By Geoff Kirsch


I heard you the first time. You said “Hey, bear!” and I said “grrrrr,” all right? Now, I don’t mean to be rude, but please. I’ve got cans to rifle through, here, so… Grrrr. Thanks.

Okay. Do I bug you at your place of business? Do I hover over your ergonomic workstation shouting and clapping and threatening you with my kid’s whiffle ball bat?

So, if you don’t mind, I’ve really got my work cut out for me, here. You guys produce a lot of trash. Grrrrr.

Can you not hurl your empty La Croix can at me? I’m trying to establish a system. Glass. Plastic. Aluminum. Your garbage isn’t going to sort itself — and obviously neither are you. Frankly, you’re a disgrace to that Patagonia fleece you’re wearing.

What kind of garbage bear am I? Um, the kind who actually cares about the environment?

What do you mean “what do I mean”?

Forgetting, for a moment, your flagrant disregard for Urban Bear Ordinance 2004-11, which governs the proper handling and storage of putrescible waste. Guidelines clearly state “all residential trash must be placed in a bear resistant container and kept inside a bear resistant enclosure.” Granted, I’d need to peruse the definitions section for what, precisely, constitutes “bear resistant container and enclosure”—but pretty sure it’s not an un-cinched Hefty Cinch Sak® next to a pile of broken down junk at the curb marked “FREE.”

The bigger issue: for Democrats, you guys don’t recycle for crap.

Just look at what you’re throwing away: aerosol cans, toilet paper rolls, Amazon Prime packaging (what happened to looking local first?), Greek yogurt containers, empty jugs of eco-friendly cleanser — ironic, don’t you think — rosecco bottles — a shocking number of Prosecco bottles — take-out clamshells, a stack of old Atlantic Monthly magazines…

You’re right. Bears don’t usually talk, you know, aside from the occasional “someone’s been sleeping in my bed.” But these days, especially, I feel like I can’t stay silent anymore.

For instance: see this plastic grocery bag? It’s going to sit in the landfill for 10,000 years. At least use it to pick up after your dog. In fact, you can start in your yard. And while you’re at it, you might also want to beef up the latches on your chicken coop. Lucky for you I just watched “Food, Inc.”—totally off poultry.

Where’d I learn such good English? NPR. It’s blaring from every house in the neighborhood.

Grrrrr. I can’t believe what I’m finding in here. K-cup pods. Single-serving organic hummus. Come on. You can’t buy the giant family size tub? Oh, dude! These batteries go to household hazardous waste. By the way, it’s 2021. Why are you still using disposable batteries?

And while we’re on the subject, when are you going to trade in that gas-guzzling Prius parked in your driveway? Me, I drive a Tesla with a “Bears for Bernie” bumper sticker… Or at least I would if the State of Alaska ever decided to issue me a license. It’s been four years since the governor officially designated April “Bear Awareness Month,” and we’ve yet to see any major breakthroughs in Ursine rights.

Am I serious?

Let me put this way: do I [bleep] in the woods?

That’s a rhetorical question. Of course I [bleep] in the woods. I’m certainly not going to [bleep] in your yard. Like I said before, it’s disgusting back there.

But listen, I like you (and invite you to follow me on twitter @wokebear). After all, we’re on the same team… You know, mammals—hairy vertebrates rule! #warm-blooded!!!

Point is, you need to unpack your human privilege. Smokey put it best: “Only you can prevent forest fires.” Know what I’m saying? I mean, you’ve got opposable thumbs and a 1350 cc brain. Do you know what I could accomplish with opposable thumbs and a 1350 brain? I’d crush at Fruit Ninja, that’s for sure.

No, I don’t think you’re trying your best. The MAGAs across the street totally compost. Think about it.

Speaking of which… if you’re going to throw your leftover Brussels sprouts in the regular trash, would it kill you to toss a little duck confit on top? Maybe a side of black truffle aioli? When I eat garbage I want to taste a complex flavor profile.

Oh, man. I’d maul for a kombucha right now.

• Geoff Kirsch is an award-winning Juneau-based writer and humorist. “Slack Tide” appears twice monthly in Neighbors.

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