Moving on from Cheap and Plenty

Waste – where does it all come from, where does it all go? In a closed system (Earth), a little of it goes everywhere and all of it goes nowhere. We ‘deal’ with waste by putting it out of view, all the while we make more stuff, want more stuff, buy more stuff, sell more stuff, invent fake stuff to buy and sell, even if it’s a ponzi scheme [Narrator: It’s a ponzi scheme].

Now comes the lament that the good days of cheap goods and easy access to them is coming to an end. It is but a scare tactic. And from the perspective of waste – and not only that – were those days so good? The ethos, such as it is, of disposable _____ (goods, culture, food) creates a self-fulfilling emptiness. We could argue that cultivation of these seeds of despair have bloomed and blossomed, and as we feast upon them, they only serve to further famish. Why? What’s the mystery? From wanting nothing issues the inability to figure out what is wanted, what is meaning, what’s it’s all for. As the noted philosopher Jethro Bodine reminds us, “naught from naught equals naught.”

We shudder at the very thought of empty shelves or infringements on long commutes, when fewer shelves and shorter drives represent a signal turn for the better. But gladly to rush into the arms of division and destruction only to maintain the misery fix, we’re only the worse and will fight to keep it.

These failings are ours, but within them lay great tools of rebuilding – not more new things, but better new selves. All of our many advantages were not achieved just to make money off of money, but to make music – whether that means actual notes and tones to you or not – to enjoy and enjoin.

How to channel the urge to exploit? Realize every instance of the act reserves a double portion for the actor and we won’t need to worry with saving the Earth (closed system) when we get serious about saving ourselves.

Two good shoes and all.

The Plastocene

The Graduate is a great film, with an enduring effect on our culture. But one scene in the film called out a phenomenon that will have an even more enduring effect on our planet: “Just one word

In the first global analysis of plastic production and use, the true weight of the world’s most flexible material has been brought to light. By 2015, humans had generated 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic. Of that, 6.3 billion is waste, with just nine per cent of it recycled. The majority, 79 per cent, is piled-up in landfills.

To put this staggering quantity in perspective, 8.3 billion metric tons is the same weight as 80 million blue whales, or 822,000 Eiffel Towers, or one billion elephants. The research was conducted by the University of Georgia, the University of California and others and is published in the journal Science Advances.

The scene in question:

Now, do you think you could stop buying plastic bottles? Like right away? Today? What does half-life mean? And… scene.

Mulch Countertops

I’ve got a good friend who just got her LEED certification and this article on green building made me think not just of her, for which no prompting is necessary, but the career she hopes to build with this new credential.

“I don’t care what your countertop is made out of” reflects Worner’s conclusion about what building features are most important. If climate change is the biggest environmental threat to human welfare, then reducing energy use is the most important goal of green building—by far. This is the consensus view among green building experts (for a good explanation of the energy-trumps-everything argument, see Auden Schendler’s book Getting Green Done). A countertop made of recycled paper is nice, but a highly efficient furnace is going to pay much higher environmental (not to mention financial) dividends over the years.  If homeowners can cut energy use, Worner figures, they don’t have to sweat every small thing.

which is a rilly, rilly great point. So much of greening your home seems so intimidating – like you’ve got to construct this air-tight box with all the latest materials out of your sixty-plus year-old bungalow – that people can just say, “eh, what’s the use.” Way more useful to see things in context and decide what’s most important.

On a related point, I’ve been scouting urban rentals for a undisclosed location summer get-a-way and it’s strange what looking a lot of smallish interior spaces – as though you have to judge between them based on some very clear criteria other than, “oh, that’s nice” – does to you. It’s weird. Small little urban spaces are cool for any number of reasons, but I realize what’s more important to me than the furnished decor by the way I always look at google map of it’s location before taking the photo tour of the apartment – these apartment sites are sooo sophisticated nowadays. But I want to see the closest subways and parks, and of course, how far it is from the Kayser.