In the end it's about excrement. What to do with doodoo. Excrement has been plaguing man since before the plague, and was a plague in itself, fouling drinking water, spreading all sorts of nasties, and stinking up campsites.
Back when we were hunter-gatherers, and there weren't so many of us, no problem. We could just move on, preferably upriver. Given enough time the excrement would actually fertilize the soil and nature would go on. But these days not so much. We even have to deal with the excrement of our multitude of pets.
So we pack our pets' poop. Walk along behind old Rover as he roves for a place to plop and fetch the offering he provides, encase it in plastic, and toss it in the trash. All very tidy.
My brother-in-law, witnessing such an urban episode in my presence recently, commented on what may happen someday as a result. "I wonder," he said, "what future anthropologists will think when they mine the landfills of our generation and discover plastic-wrapped petrified poop."
A fine observation. What indeed? The study of coprolites, as petrified poop is actually called, is big science these days, helping paleontologists determine the diet of ancient creatures and key aspects of their environment.
What a strange encounter that will be. "It appears to be some sort of ritual. For some reason they lovingly and carefully wrapped canine feces in some polymer-based substance. The canine skeletons found in other locations suggest there was some taboo about burying canids and their excrement together.
"The fecal matter was religiously prized enough to be ceremonially interred with other special 21st century items, such as what appear to be human excrement-soiled lower body garments with elasticized legs and seagull heads trapped in six-ringed configurations made of stiffer polymer."
America, ya gotta love it.