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Plastic Bags


Plastic bags bring 2 questions immediately to mind.

What is it about us that enables us to invent a new substance that is pretty much indestructible? Have you heard the expression, ‘stubborn as a plastic bag in a landfill?’ ‘Nuff said. And by us, I mean Euro-American capitalist culture.

What is it about us that makes the act itself of inventing stuff more important than the consequences, or even allowing us to step back, take a deep breath, and decide that maybe we ought to put less value on the intrinsic thrill of discovery and more on thinking through the consequences? Nuclear power? Yeah, I’m sure that someone will figure something out, in the millions of years it will take before the toxicity dissipates. Hey, there might be a Nobel prize in her somewhere!

And the second question is whether, had that discovery occurred in some other culture, they might have had the sense to say to themselves, OK, plastic seems like a really cool thing, but what are we going to do when we start drowning in the stuff?

It could be that the facility to create – that drive to find cool new stuff –  is inextricably linked to the ability to ignore the consequences. I’m sure there are platoons of phd candidates in social psychology busily cranking out dissertations on that very relationship. If we didn’t have that drive, would be all be Na’vi? And would that be a bad thing? Obviously, I wouldn’t be blogging about it if we were . . .

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