Thursday, May 19, 2016

Episode 73: Trash Collection and the End of Humanity

I am a big fan of trash collectors, not the people who go through other people’s trash and collect stuff, but the people who come to my house early in the morning and take away all the stuff I throw away.  The other people are quite often hoarders, which is bad for the business of real trash collectors.  That is probably why real trash collectors have started moving away from trash collecting and towards waste management.  They do not want to be confused with people who actually collect and keep trash.  In any case, as much as I like trash collectors, I do believe they very well could be pushing humanity towards its demise.  

You see, knowing someone is going to pick up everything we throw away is making most of us less responsible and less thoughtful, which is good for people in the manufacturing business, the advertising business, the retail business, and all sorts of other business, but not as good for the actual business of living on a planet with other living things also trying to live on said planet. 

Trash collectors are really enabling bad behavior. 

As long as they keep coming to pick up trash, we will become increasingly irresponsible with what we throw away.  It is only a matter of time before we just skip using stuff and start throwing it away on the way out of the stores in which we buy the stuff.  (Judging by the quality of a large portion of manufactured goods today, the manufacturers are already operating with that assumption.)  Fewer and fewer things are made to last, because there is no money in making things that do not have to be replaced every 12.7 seconds.

What would happen if trash collectors stopped collecting our trash?  What if we had to figure out what to do with all our trash?  I bet we wouldn’t buy as many things.  Most of the things we buy end up in the trash not long after we buy them, because we know the trash collectors will just come get them, the manufacturers will just make more, the advertisers will tell us about all the new things the manufacturers are making, and the retailers will happily sell them to us.  

It is a bit like the hydrological cycle, except with stuff we don’t need, and it is less like a cycle and more like a slow straight line to a future in which we live on the skin of a gigantic whirling ball of waste.  At that point, we would probably abandon Earth so we wouldn't have to deal with the waste problem.

When we decide the solution to a problem is to make it someone else's problem, that's when we embrace the end of humanity.  

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