(from Pocket Philosophy for End Times – A Lexicon of Dystopia)
Our economic system has been sustained by the invention of the abstract and physically impossible concept of waste: the irrational notion that any object, resource or even human can suddenly lose its value, sometimes without any actual change in its physical properties, and be thrown away into a pile of other “valueless” objects. Humans were the first to invent “garbage” and “bins”, and this resulted in the invention, for the first time, of novel materials such as plastic or radioactivity which indeed have no value in nature. We invented not only the concept of trash, but real trash. This concept of terminating the value of an object was then expanded in order to go on and use, abuse, discard and, most importantly, replace at a new, profit-making purchase value. The concept of waste is what enabled economies to expand. But the legitimisation of this devaluation, and the consumption it led to, resulted in a cycle of destruction which can only end when there is nothing left to destroy. Consumption and purchase are only two of the steps in this toxic process. It is really the concept of waste that sits on top of this system, and which initiates the toxic cycle. By making and selling products we are not just monetizing these products or the resources used to make them. We are actually monetizing their expiration, their conversion to waste, which we choose to arbitrarily set at a point in time most convenient for maximum profit.
George is an author, researcher, podcaster, chemist, molecular biologist and food scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @99blackbaloons , listen to his Spotify podcast George reads George, join his mailing list, or enjoy his books