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Stuff and more stuff

An excerpt from  Sustainable Energy – without the hot air – David J.C. MacKay
UIT Cambridge, 2008. ISBN 978-0-9544529-3-3. Available free online
from www.withouthotair.com.

“One of the main sinks of energy in the “developed” world is the creation of stuff. In its natural life cycle, stuff passes through three stages. First, a new-born stuff is displayed in shiny packaging on a shelf in a shop. At this stage, stuff is called “goods.” As soon as the stuff is taken home and sheds its packaging, it undergoes a transformation from “goods” to its second form, “clutter.” The clutter lives with its owner for a period of months or years.
During this period, the clutter is largely ignored by its owner, who is off at the shops buying more goods. Eventually, by a miracle of modern alchemy, the clutter is transformed into its final form, rubbish. To the untrained eye, it can be difficult to distinguish this “rubbish” from the highly desirable “good” that it used to be. Nonetheless, at this stage the discerning owner pays the dustman to transport the stuff away. ”

He didn’t  mention that many people, in the in between stage, often buy more stuff in which to store the stuff which they don’t use but are not ready to discard yet. That sure is a handy earner, selling stuff to people to keep their stuff in so as to make room for yet more stuff.

It’s a funny  old world…

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3 Comments

  1. Have you watched “The Story of Stuff” video? A 20min video that really puts “stuff” in perspective: http://www.storyofstuff.com/

    I LOVE the line in it about ads (paraphrasing) ‘What’s the point of an ad except to make us unhappy with what we already have?’

    Your post got me watching it again and it makes me glad to be involved in the Freecycle.org movement. Also that other oniine ‘don’t dump it if it ain’t broken’ groups like Eirecycle.info exist Even some county councils have got involved too. So more and more people are waking up to the insanity 🙂

    Now if only they would also start waking up to the insanity of ‘money’ – and the ‘recession’ it has allowed some people create and sustain.

    You find it strange that people buy stuff to keep stuff in? Well, I find it strange that NOT ONCE in any discussion about the recession (the way out of which is to apparently to encourage consumption, sorry, ‘spending’) did anyone ever raise the issue of WHY goverments have to borrow money from a private business (sorry ‘bank’), at interest, in order to do things.

    Even as a kid I always wondered why a Government couldn’t just print it’s own money and give it to the people to play with. After all, the Government were in charge weren’t they?! But none of the economists, TDs or even interviewers on the radio are raising this issue.

    It’s a funny old world alright.

    Although I ain’t laughing.

    1. Yeah, when I was a child I also used to wonder why governments didn’t print their country’s own money. People told me that it was complicated economic stuff that I would understand when I was older – I wonder how much older I need to be before I do start to understand?
      As for the recession – I rather think of it as an economic opportunity. An opportunity for reassessment of spending, of living way beyond our needs. A chance to look afresh at our needs and of remembering the resourcefulness of our parents and grandparents. A chance to start afresh?

  2. How much more peaceful I feel when I am mindful of the usefulness of an object no matter its age. You know, get the real wabi-sabi of something.

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