Monday, December 13, 2010

Wastefully So.

if you don't use it--you lose it, it only took 4 weeks for the vines to reclaim this disabled vehicle.

Snow covers summer sins and fall neglect, street silent and frigid, geese are gone; happy holidays! At a time when turkey leftovers hunker in the freezer till the dog is out of dog food, and the ham turns to salt and leather, I reflect upon the effect of abundance. No I don't have a dog, and I eat our own recycled fowl till Easter, thank you!. The material over-abundance is harder to deal with and not so pleasurable.

Yesterday, I noticed the impressive metal machines from Veolia waste management groaning along the neighborhood under the mass and weight of a sudden surge in curbside mounds of refuse. Refuse indeed, walking by the small hills of cardboard boxes full of garbage, I witnessed the usual disregard for possessions, a new word should be found for such—waste.

Electronics, appliances, lamps and brooms among the near new, and quite likely still usable items, discarded in expectation of some fabulous Santa person's generosity. All standing in the cold morning, cracking plastic in the dawn of obsolescence. Last year's microwave, never used gizmo, banged up game boy—oh well? Whose money was it anyway? No, not money—resources...

Yes resources, other people's resources blaring a decadent message for all to hear in the middle of the street. And no one to see that, cars veer aside to avoid the blowing paper, the baby blanket and the roast flavored tin foil on the pavement. Family secrets spill out of many a torn black plastic monstrosity, flapping feminine wares, and half used toiletries.

What harm? What business? No, no concern of anyone's, but it does end up jamming and clogging the whole living organism we call society—in the end. What one person consumes, becomes a unit multiplied by each and everyone—multiplied by the complexity of raw material, plus manufacturing, plus transporting in all phases, plus storage, plus distribution, then arriving at retail and accounting. Finally resting in it's not so final place, the object spends a more or less brutal part of its cycle, for more or less time in a home.

And then—the object of disappointment approaches its apotheosis as rejected matter, back to nature in its glorious trip through a big ugly crushing jaw, to some mysterious vacant hole in the ground, far away. It leaches heavy metals or plasticized residues into the ground water, burps gases back to the skies and dies in toxic decay. While somebody, somewhere is repeating the mining, the polluting, the trucking motions to reproduce a marketable, improved version of the same said gadget.

Does any consumer truly consider the impact of such busy practices, the enormity of mass production? And the personal disregard for the very source of such behavior? Well maybe not on the streets I pass. And according to the numbers I read on the planet's condition and availability of goods, not enough fully use what they want, what they buy and what they throw away.

The trouble with the away concept is that away is only as far as the curb...out of sight—out of care. Too much to do to worry about what happens to the fully plastic vacuum, the cadmium battery or the cleaning fluid. Gone and out of mind for most, and onto the next purchase. But where does that come from? Where does the money come from? And where does it all go?

In economic downturns, I would assume that more care is invested in nurturing the nest egg and appreciating the possessions. The running figures in day-glow vests carting glass and wood, plastic and metal know the extent of tonnage aiming for the landfills and the seas. Perhaps the repetitive gestures of their physical jobs hold nothing but the single purpose of providing for a family, but I feel sure that they witness the frivolity of waste in these dire times.

You don't need an environmental science degree to notice the occurrence of toxic damage upon the immediate neighborhood, any body of water near you can demonstrate the degrading quality of what was once deeply satisfying. Clear streams, pleasant back roads, healthful places. Okay, so the boy-scouts keep a highway mile clean, a local club dutifully scours the lake sides twice a year; but we can't hide from the oily fishing spot, the cluttered wood sides. Stuff everywhere. Our stuff, our junk...shameless collective overflow.

There is help, I routinely search the no-nonsense blogs for inspiration to use-re-use and re-purpose any item. Although experience and ingenuity work well together. It takes less time to make do than to make.
Here's a link to a real wealth of useful, ever widening information. This family practices what it learns. And learns to practice what is best. 

 stove fodder or collage? personal postcard.

1 comment:

  1. beautifully written, Nadine - thank you for highlighting such an important issue with your carefully chosen words...The photograph of the car is unbelievable; we say we have to save the planet - when will we understand, she doesn't need our help, what we need to save is ourselves ;)