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user-inactivated  ·  168 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: American wasteland: How Americans became slaves to a mindless, wasteful, ugly ideal of convenience

Each year, I like reading opinionist pieces less and less. Probably because each year I feel like actual conversations and discourse, when not carried out in an agonistic spirit, are much more impactful for a number of reasons. I actually never thought I'd share something by Walther (though I was tempted to share his "videogames aren't a sport" piece). The only opinionist I really appreciate from The Week is Jeff Spross, if only because he looks at economics from different angles than what my friends usually look at them.

I shared this one for a few reasons though. Partially because it seems like the conversation on plastics have exploded over the past few years. There's always been the talk about more eco friendly packaging and such, but the conversation really seemed to pick up steam probably around the time governments really started to tackle plastic waste such as shopping bags and such. That we're not only continuing to discuss plastics but also looking at disposable straws and more as additional ways to start combating things, shows a readiness to take more steps and I think that's encouraging.

I also shared it because it's strong in spirit, but has some flaws in argument that could generate more discussion. For example, take this quote on reusable containers . . .

    There is no reason in the world that everything from Lucky Charms to beer to steak could not be transported and purchased from stores in reusable containers. This is, believe it or not, exactly how people bought nearly everything only a century ago. The milk man with glass bottles is not such a distant memory — and in Britain he is even making a comeback.

So many questions could be asked. Do we still have the infrastructure to pull something like this off and if so, would doing so create more or less waste? Do we consume so much these days that using reusable containers becomes cumbersome and unfeasible? If so, what does that say about our consumerist habits? Did switching to disposable containers help fuel our consumerism? There are probably another five or six questions that could stem from this one quote alone, let alone additional questions from the answers we come to, that would make for an interesting conversation.

In other areas, he's arguably wrong. For example . . .

    Instead of plastic boxes that can only be repaired with the aid of a manufacturer-provided computer, cars should be made of glittering steel and fixable by anybody's bored grandpa, the way they were half a century ago, but vastly improved by our ability to make them run faster and more cleanly on less fuel.

Cars today are complex and hard to repair because we're trying to make them faster and more fuel efficient. All of that horsepower, that torque, and that fuel efficiency comes from complex engines that need precision machining, complex computers, and additional components to make it happen. Fortunately for mechanics, and unfortunately for us, the more complex something is the harder it is to repair. But, then we could bring up electric vehicles and brushless motors and how much less maintenance they require and say that these are in the spirit of what he's arguing for. If we did that though, then we'd have to discuss whether or not electric cars are really the ecological saviors they're marketed to be.

It's a really flawed piece. I didn't post it because I agreed with everything said. I posted it because I think in spirit he has some ideas, but more importantly, there are some gems in discussing the flaws.