A simple list of waste

I find it astounding how many people think that capitalist property / trade / currency based economics is “efficient”, and/or believe that the amount of resources consumed per head of population at present, is anything but a gigantic waste which for the most part consumes huge resources in order to deliver almost nothing to the vast majority of people … and much of what is delivered either wouldn’t be needed in the first place if it wasn’t for these economic imperatives, or is so poorly built that it barely fulfils the need (if at all), then breaks before the job is done, thus needing to be replaced.

So I thought I’d just write a list of all the waste I can think of:

  1. Inbuilt obsolescence: this is of course one of the most obvious but I doubt many people have really considered the scope and scale of the waste involved, so let’s have a look at that:
    • Products designed and manufactured for nothing but fashion, many of which fail utterly so they don’t even get used, and even if they do get purchased, this still doesn’t mean they’ll get used … and fashion wastage is not restricted to merely the apparel industry, it exists across almost every imaginable industry;
    • Poor quality, designed to fail, and/or designed to become quickly obsolete (thus extra sales made);
    • Obsolescence due to external factors (ie – the object still functions, but it’s functional environment no longer supports it, so it must be upgraded or replaced);
    • Manufacturing need, ie – the object always was unnecessary, but they manipulate people’s vulnerabilities to generate feelings of insecurity which result in product purchases;
    • AND in all these and any other cases: remember that for every single design of such intentionally designed to be obsolete items, a whole team of people, in fact networks of teams, have to go to work (driving their cars), use office / factory equipment, use consumable resources … then once designed & manufactured, new teams have to go to work in distribution / logistics / storage facilities, transport operators … and finally a whole bunch of wholesale and retail teams come into play, plus advertisers, marketers, and all of the teams at the media outlets who do the actual advertising display, plus other support staff and contractors whom help keep them operational, and of course some proportion of the flow on into further support services that keep those businesses going … all of them chewing through countless resources to support the design, manufacture etc. of stuff that either isn’t needed, is barely needed, doesn’t do the job properly, falls out of fashion, breaks, or in some per way becomes immediately, quickly or eventually redundant;
    • Think about this for a moment on a global scale … how many businesses in your town or city, your local region, state, nation, global region, and in total across the entire world, are producing things in this manner?
  2. Vertical and horizontal business operations: think about an example, like a car … now imagine how you can diversify your business to increase your profits and control:
    • The more people drive, the quicker the car needs servicing, so getting people to drive more means more servicing business, thus more profit;
    • More driving equals more wholesale fuel and replacement parts, so we can diversify into those;
    • More driving equals more retail sales at fuel resellers, so again we push more driving and diversify;
    • More driving equals more vehicle insurance;
    • If you own fuel sales, less efficient engines creates more fuel usage … and for the internal combustion engine motor vehicle (as I think was studied by Avery Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute about a decade ago, but still likely reasonably accurate), the average motor vehicle used only 0.2% of the available energy in the fuel for moving the mass of the driver, the rest (99.8%) being lost in various inefficiencies (including moving the mass of the vehicle and fuel supply themselves);
    • More difficult driver tests equates to less vehicle sales, and less parts & vehicle replacements via accidents, so driving tests are made extremely easy to get more vehicles on the road, even though driving skills are crap;
    • Competing with other manufacturers means making non-existent differences via branding (while the engineering is almost identical);
    • Cars require minerals and fuel, so hey let’s get into mining and dig up as many forests as we can;
    • AND AGAIN across these and a great many other areas, the desire is to diversify and maximise sales of every imaginable resource, regardless of consequences … each business sending hundreds thousands or tens of thousands of people to work, each requiring huge amounts of resources to do their otherwise unnecessary jobs in the fulfilment of manufactured need;
  3. Publishing & other Media Production: we couldn’t have people just writing for the pure pleasure of it, no it has to pay the bills, so we create tv film books magazines newspapers and other publications, many of which have added nothing new or significant to any conversation … or nothing of any serious consequence … but to make it pay the bills, it’s blown out of all proportion, along with additional advertising marketing and merchandising to exploit the living fuck out of people’s desire to belong to something … along with which goes:
    • T-shirt (apparel merchandise) sales;
    • Toy / “collectable” sales;
    • Ticket sales, etc.;
    • … and if the content was just free to view in the first place, free to produce, and the motivation for producing at all was changed from an economic imperative to a purely creative one … we’d have higher quality content, but less unnecessary marketing / merchandising and other associated bullshit;
  4. Packaging: this is a big one, because not only do so many unnecessary products require packaging, but the majority of packaging ends up being thrown away, it has little or no other purpose, once thrown away needs to be transported (hopefully to a recycling centre) … and then:
    • Packaging companies want to be profitable too, so packaging itself is made to be fashionable, to increase the sales of the products contained, and thus increase packaging sales;
    • Each packing product needs to be designed, tooled, prototyped & tested, and eventually sold in as great a quantity as possible, even if it serves no significant purpose but a sales person can convince someone otherwise;
    • The tooling machines to make the packaging molds etc. need to be manufactured and maintained themselves;
    • Stock of packaging must be stored and shipped, and some proportion is damaged during the various transport and processing / assembly and storage / logistics processes (along with the products contained);
  5. Warfare and armaments manufacturing: the business of killing is a monumentally wasteful one, as it requires some of the most resource intensive research, design, prototyping, testing and other processes … which is not to say it hasn’t come up with useful civilian technologies, but there’s no reason we couldn’t have developed these exact same technologies through non-military research … and since property & power are directly correlated, any potentially legitimate military activities (ie – protection from corruption / evil … which almost never happens), is entirely undermined by commercial & political interests … then making matters worse:
    • Warfare technology kills, destroys & pollutes;
    • Military recruitment and initial personnel training consumes huge resources;
    • Warfare training and operational engagement consumes vast amounts of resources;
    • Each event of military engagement destroys both resources & their capacity for replenishment;
  6. Technology selection for economic vs. technical reasons: there have been many cases where a lesser technology has won an investment or marketing battle over a better technology, and so … competition, and the general economic imperative of the profit motive does not necessarily drive the best technology, and sometimes the best loses an economic battle, thus wasting it on top of losing the opportunities it would otherwise afford us;
  7. Entertainment & Events: these industries often produce vast amounts of waste per event, because it’s cheaper to throw stuff away that to clean and reuse;
  8. Transport & Travel: every time we move an object of some mass from one location to another, we need machines, they burn fuel, and often the reason for moving the thing was purely economic under the existing paradigm, but under no other reasonable appraisal of “need” would we say it made sense, and the entire global import / export market is jam packed with countless examples of complete crap being moved from one place to another, in service of an economic imperative which achieves very little if any ecological or social benefit;
  9. Lighting, heating cooling and ventilation: we have buildings, other facilities / structures and streets lit up all night long, often for little or no reason … every work environment requires resources spent to make it workable … and with so many work environments existing to make useless products that serve no valid purpose without manufactured “need” leveraged from people’s insecurities, we again chew up enormous resources on environmental controls, well above what would otherwise be genuinely “needed” to solve real problems;
  10. Competition: we produce multiple utterly redundant versions of the exact same thing, including in some cases extremely expensive and resource intensive infrastructure projects, so that people can compete for a standard of living they could just all have simultaneously without manufacturing either product in the first place, if we just ran a different (non-property/trade/currency-based economic paradigm).


Now I could probably keep going another 10 or 20 general points like this across countless industry sectors and aspects of public and private sector business operations, without too much difficulty … each one of which comprised of dozens, hundreds or thousands of subcategories, with multiple organisations across multiple locations around the world doing each of them to varying degrees of waste … and when you total it up, it’s just a staggering cost … so any argument claiming capitalism is in any respect “efficient” is just so far fetched it’s laughable.

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