Just the other day I was remarking how silly it is that I insist on pooping into clean water. What a luxury! If there’s a finite amount of clean water in the world why do I reserve a special amount in my toilet just to poop in? Why can’t we recycle waste dishwater or something to fill our toilets? I guess part of the answer is no one wants a little splash of dirty water in case something goes awry. But this got me thinking about how people use the world’s resources and how difficult it seems to shift away from our crappy status quo (pun intended). The way I buy and use things from electronics to plastic spoons seems like I ignore the fact that world only has a certain amount of stuff to to make all the stuff that I buy, use, then throw away. It’s like pooping in clean water: It’s something I do every day but I when I think about it doesn’t make sense.
While searching for new conspiracies, I came across this interesting documentary which ties in nicely with my concerns (yet doesn’t once mention poop): The Light Bulb Conspiracy.
This 52 minute program deals with planned obsolescence, the business strategy that dictates more money is made by products that stop working and need replacement than strong, durable products that last a lifetime. It begins with light bulbs and goes if into a few other directions touching on electronics, waste, consumerism, and more!
Some things that I found interesting:
- There was an actual light bulb cartel. And it fined companies that made light bulbs that lasted too long.
- Labor as well as big business favors planned obsolescence because if products break, new ones need to be made, and this means jobs. This makes me wonder how we can break away from the idea that having jobs for jobs’ sake will make everything better. Just making up more jobs just seems like a band aid on our bigger problem of depleting resources. Can we have more jobs and have less needless consumerism? Is there any appeal for the capitalist to make things that don’t require frequent replacements and new purchases?
- The documentary shows a dump in Ghana where electronic waste from all over the world is shipped. It’s illegal to ship electronic waste to third world countries but shipping companies dodge this rule by labeling everything as second hand goods. The hills of old electronics is gross and illustrates the growing scarcity of places to dump our shit (pun intended). But the documentary also talks about how young boys go to the dump and collect scrap metal to be salvaged by burning junk so all the plastic bits are burned away from the metal. Not the most healthy thing to do, but some money is being made. What would happen if that was taken away from the local economy? I don’t know if its a large chunk of money but if there wasn’t the waste would poor people lose money? I think the amount of money made from such enterprises isn’t worth the environmental degradaton/health hazards/psychological effects of being the planet’s dump but still I wonder how a change would effect poverty.
The Light Bulb Conspiracy!
Videos cited in the Light Bulb Conspiracy:
- The movie The Man in the White Suit about a chemist who discovers a thread that will last a lifetime is available on Netflix Instant Watch: http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/The_Man_in_the_White_Suit/60029976?trkid=2361637
- iPod’s Dirty Secret