Our mostly disposable and entirely stupid world

Across the street from my apartment is a house which has been in a perpetual state of renovation for nearly six months. This past week, a for sale sign has popped out of the ground just in time for the spring rush.

It turns out, the man who bought the house did so about a year ago with the sole purpose of renovating and flipping it to make a quick buck. But, that’s sort of only half the story, because whoever buys it is almost certainly going to do the same thing. Until the market “cools off” they’re locked in an eternal cycle of people ripping out the old trim, painting the walls a different shade of white, swapping out the light fixtures for whatever’s trendy, and repeating endlessly until the bubble pops.

Obviously it works on paper, because if it didn’t this wouldn’t be so common. But when even the slightest amount of critical thought is applied the entire thing collapses. The amount of wasted labour, wasted time, wasted materials, and most importantly the wasted opportunity for housing is just unacceptable to me. It doesn’t make any sense that our system is set up to fundamentally waste so much.

And this exact same attitude is everywhere in our culture. Our computers are all going in e-waste because they don’t have enough memory to run the heavy and intensive applications we must use. Not because our requirements have changed, we all do essentially the exact same things we did a decade ago. And certainly not because they don’t work anymore, some studies show that the vast majority of disposed electronics still power on and largely ‘work’. No, because the only way for the massive tech conglomerates to sustain their massive wealth is to create more garbage.

If we pulled back even slightly, there would be enough laptops for every quarantined kid to participate in online school, and enough houses for the millions of homeless in this continent to live in. Instead, we have overflowing landfills leaching toxic metals into the ground and a looming crisis of evictions and homelessness. I’m not sure how to solve the problem because it’s obvious that the actions individuals take will never make up for the toxic culture that’s created this. The absolute least we can do is create just a little less garbage ourselves.