Has anyone seen the Story of Stuff movie? About the western obsession with a consumer based society and what that means? It's worth a look if you haven't seen it.
I've been thinking about the concepts of "good citizens" being the ones who go on acquiring "stuff" while I've been looking at media stories about the floods. If ever something was going to come along to challenge your belief in how important your "stuff" is this would be it.
I've noticed a few things. Firstly and foremost, the incredible enthusiasm that people not affected by the floods have for giving people who have lost "stuff", "stuff" to replace their "stuff" with. Which I suspect is for at least some of the givers an excuse to get rid of "stuff" that you no longer use to make way for more new "stuff" that you want to own. It's almost like it is an affront to the foundation of society to have someone out there not have the required amount of "stuff" in order to belong to the dominant society.
I've also noticed the vast amounts of "stuff" discarded onto foot paths that are being picked up and dumped en masse without so much as a cursory second glance about how that waste could be a useful input somewhere, other than as landfill at the municipal dump. Obviously it is hard to be sure about it when you are sitting in front of the TV, but I have seen a restaurant that was tossing out metal shelving with great gusto, because they had been inundated. I can understand that chip board shelving would be useless, but why could they not have taken a pressure hose to the metal shelving and kept it? Is it just an excuse to get new "stuff" courtesy off your insurance company?
I'm away from the worst hit areas, and I don't have a ute or a trailer, but I keep seeing the streets lined with waterlogged "stuff" and thinking about how much useful "stuff" you could rehome if you had the urge! Like a fridge with ruined electricals but perfectly good seals that you could turn into a solar dryer like the one in Paul Wheaton's video. Or laundry tubs that you could turn into worm farms. I suspect that there are enterprising people out doing precisely that, and I wonder if they are being supported or vilified in their attempts to given an object a second life. Like on council kerbside collection day - it sort of threatens the fabric of society when you decide that something is worthless, but someone else comes along and apparently profits from your rubbish.
I also noted the media interview with one agency - I think it was Lifeline but I could be wrong - who are being overwhelmed by donations of "stuff" that people are giving in the hope that it will go to the flood victims. What actually happens is that they sort through the "stuff" and anything that isn't saleable goes into landfill, and the rest is sold at Lifeline shops, to generate cash which is then used for the works that Lifeline does. The media person was expressing a hint of disapproval at this process because it's not what people imagine is going to happen with their "stuff" when they donate it. The Lifeline person was saying basically "please don't send us "stuff" now, cash would be better. We won't be able to sell all this stuff now, and once we run out of room on the shelves we'll have to throw the rest of the donations away."
Anyway - these are just some of the things I am thinking to myself while watching the TV these days!