[227] Disposability

The other day, I made some meatloaf for dinner. I’ve done some different things with meatloaf before. I’ve made one with just about everything in my pantry—it didn’t taste like anything and just gave me heartburn; I’ve made one with taco seasoning and cheese; another with bacon and cheese. However, I only used ground beef. With the price of beef as outrageous as it is, and because I wanted to for a while now, I mixed equal parts of ground beef and ground pork. I added chopped onion, beefy onion soup mix, breadcrumbs, taco seasoning, salt and pepper, and the finished product tasted delicious. After that night, I saved the rest and have been eating the leftovers for about three days now. No one else was eating it, so why not?

This got me to thinking how in America we live in a disposable society. Years ago, during the Depression and World War era, families had to be frugal, preparing meals and using and reusing the leftovers as long as possible. If you didn’t want what was prepared, you either were forced to sit at the table until you cleaned your plate, or you just went without dinner. Kids learned real quickly to not throw a fit. When food was prepared, leftovers were pulled out of the fridge and combined with something else or just reheated.

In today’s America, this is totally not the case anymore, by and large. When they cook, people make just enough for that meal, or they just go to the local burger joint (or in some cases, the nearby vegan hangout). If too much food is made, a lot of folks are so concerned with food poisoning that they just throw away the remaining food. That, or the leftovers sit in the fridge, relegated to the far corners until they resemble a science experiment gone berserk.

That’s not the only instance of “disposability”. Out of sheer laziness or possibly convenience, many people don’t even wash dishes—they use plastic utensils and cups and paper plates. Fast food places used to package their food in Styrofoam. However, because that shit doesn’t break down in nature, they use paper wraps and bags now.

Corporations, in order to sell more product, have resorted to manufacturing their goods with “planned obsolescence” in mind. From appliances to cell phones to cars. Instead of making a fridge to last 30 years, or a car out of strong steel, they’ve gone to cheaper parts and fiberglass/plastic parts. That way, in a few years, you have to buy a new one, rather than just repairing the old workhorse. Shit, Apple got into big trouble when they admitted to throttling old phones’ processors. They claimed it was because the older devices couldn’t handle the upgraded operating systems. Some have found that older iPhones, for example, can handle the newer iOS iterations. Apple just wanted people to get frustrated with their older, dependable iPhones, so they would shell out the $1000+ for the shiny new ones.

I am in no way an environmentalist—I don’t think the planet is in danger and man alone is not responsible for global warming. Granted, man has become a nuisance to nature with foam packaging, CFCs and the hole in the ozone layer, but Mother Nature has its way of self-correcting. Eventually, it will heal and cleanse itself. In the words of George Carlin, “the planet is fine—the people are fucked!”

“We live in a disposable society. It’s easier to throw things out than to fix them. We even gave it a name—we call it ‘recycling’.”

Neil Labute

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