Sunday, September 16, 2012

Let's Think About It

Progress? Or just an excuse to create an industry we don't really need?

Let's really think about this and think about it hard. Please.

What am I talking about? I'm talking about so-called progress, and convenience, and making our lives easier, and solving problems, and solving problems that aren't really problems... and finding "stuff" for people to do - because maybe just maybe there are too many people doing the wrong job and we are going the wrong direction altogether?

Observe: The Milk Carton Dilemma. SUCH a horrible problem to have to mash open the mouth of the carton. Wow, that sucks. I just can't think of anything worse. What a problem. I mean, my whole day is ruined when that happens. That's just terrible. Cancer? Terrorism? Poverty? Mere child's play compared to when I can't open a milk carton. Those old enough to remember Sniglets might recognize the word "Lactomangulation." You may as well go back to bed when this happens.

But wait! Never fear! Progress and Technology are here to rescue YOUR morning! To make YOUR life better and easier and more convenient, we have PLASTIC to save you! And look! Jobs! We need people to make these very very necessary things!

Now look at what we have: we've gone from a carton that really doesn't recycle anyway, to a carton that now has a plastic piece on it that won't get recycled because it's attached to a carton that doesn't get recycled and it will not get separated from said carton. PLUS, a little round ring thingy-piece that gets thrown away after you hurt your finger trying to get it the hell out of there. PLUS, the lid. That won't get recycled. We went to the beach the other week, and I didn't get any shells, but I DID pick up a whole handful of plastic screw-top lids. Might not have gotten them all, but damn it I got those. So, you know, I'm thinking we have more than enough lids out there already. We didn't need an excuse to make more.

But, but, but.... JOBS! Jobs are good and people get jobs by making these things we don't really need! And THAT'S good, right? Justified!

See, I have a problem there. Jobs for the sake of... jobs? Why? Because we can't come up with a job that might move us forward ecologically instead? Because this was just easier and someone is making good money up at the top? Because the Plastics Coalition says, "Hey, here's a job!" and no one says anything about how we really don't need this and maybe there is something else to be done? We had to train people to work the machines that make these things; why not train them to, I don't know, grow industrial hemp instead, or make/install solar panels or wind turbines? Why not THAT job? Instead of making machines to make useless unnecessary plastic pieces of waste, why not make machines to make stuff out of hemp? Why not?

I know why, actually. It's because plastic is made out of petroleum, and the oil industry prefers that we don't actually think about the reality of this situation. And HERE IS the reality of this situation: Opening a milk carton was never a problem in our lives. It was at most a minor nuisance that really did not negatively affect anything in the big picture. And we are creating needless waste by solving a problem that didn't exist in the first place. And we are holding people to jobs that don't go anywhere and don't really advance anyone and just keep people locked into a certain position in life. And if you didn't realize or don't believe that, you ought to give it some thought.

Hey... how about we go back to glass bottles? And hey, why don't we go back to milk delivery? THAT was a job. It was a good one.

In the meantime, can we just start thinking a little more, and stop taking everything at face value? And realize what's REALLY going on out there?

That'd be nice for a change.