Decycling

A recent posting in Grist revealed a hidden part of the human cost of fabricating products over and over again. Read here. Don’t miss the author’s unfortunate obsession with recycling and other end-of-pipe destructive techniques that he masquerades as progressive.

Here is a Youtube video WATCH about a Spanish ex-monk who spent his whole life building a gigantic cathedral out of discarded parts. He truly did an amazing job. Does it prove that discard is good because it makes discards available? The video is neutral, but an article about it naturally gushes about making lemonade from lemons. Nonsense! While this cathedral was built with a hundred tons of discarded construction materials (for example) a million, million tons of discards went unused in any way. And many of them included rare and valuable functions and materials. What a wasteful way to allow a poor, unfunded person to create his dream.  In the field of waste reutilization, one tiny example of a tiny success is routinely exaggerated to counter gigantic examples of monstrous wasting.

We point out over and over that recycling is no more than a convenient excuse for a lazy consumer society to keep on making and accepting garbage, based on the exculpatory utterance: “It’ll be recycled”. But there is nothing unusual about convenient excuses for lazy practices. Read Michael Pollan’s description in The Omnivore’s Dilemma of how MacDonald’s uses salads in a similar way as he tries to get his wife, Judith, and son, Isaac to accompany him to check out a fast food meal:

Judith was less enthusiastic. She’s careful about what she eats and eating a fast food lunch meant giving up a real meal, which seemed a shame. Isaac  pointed out that she could order one of MacDonald’s premium salads with the Paul Newman dressing.

I read in the business pages that these salads are a big hit, but even if they weren’t, they would probably stay on the menu strictly for their rhetorical usefulness.

The marketers have a term for what the salad or veggie burger does for a fast food chain – denying the denier”.

These  healthier menu items offer the child a sharp tool with which to chip away at his parent’s objections. “But Mom, you can get the salad” Which is exactly what Judith did. She ordered the Cobb Salad with Caesar dressing. At $3.99 cents it was the most expensive item on the menu.


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