It’s funny how some things just don’t translate properly. The Chinese word for disposable is “yi ci xing”, which word-for-word translates into “one time sex”. This is quite appropriate for a good number of situations, but thoroughly unfortunate in others.
“Solly,” says the elderly Chinese businessman with a faulty electronic dictionary. “I want one time sex chopsticks, prease.”
So goes my train of thought. I went to a Thai restaurant for lunch, ordered some fish cakes. Fish cakes reminded me of fish balls. Fish balls reminded me of my early childhood, where I would be eating some fresh fried fish balls from street hawkers who’d be eagerly standing behind their magic push carts.
The fish balls would come on bamboo skewers, which (as ancient Filipino custom would require) had to be snapped in two, immediately after consuming said fish balls. Bamboo skewers weren’t meant to be re-used, or recycled. The wise street snacker should always snap them in two, lest the wily street hawker pick them up from the ground and use them to serve other would be snackers.
One time sex bamboo sticks. Gotta love em.
You know what else you gotta love?
One time sex dining ware.
One time sex underwear.
One time sex baby wrappers (aka diapers).
One time sex toothbrushes.
On top of that, you’ve also got a lot of other stuff that you get not strictly for one time sex. These can be filed under “long term mistake sex”. Mayonnaise jars, anything from IKEA, electronics, anything from Giordano.
It seems that the whole economy is now built around the idea of convenience. Have one time sex, then, throw away. Or in the case of IKEA and Giordano, maybe sex for about 1 or 2 years and then throw away.
I grew up in a culture known for banana-based ketchup that come plastic bottles so cheap that you could theoretically wring them dry AND THEN put some more water into, shake and squeeze out what can only be described as “3rd World spaghetti sauce“.
For me, having grown up in the Philippines in the 80’s, there’s a certain allure to the idea of fashion so fast and so cheap you can re-do your wardrobe every season; or furniture so throw-away it’s practically designed to not last.
The allure of not having to save anything, or cherishing anything. The allure of having “enough” money to buy things that don’t last. Of not having to squeeze that god-damned bottle of ketchup just so that I can have lunch.
I am aware that this is counter-intuitive. At first glance at least.
Cheap stuff makes for the good, and some would even say “fair” distribution and availability of scarce resources. It’s the democratization of consumption. What sort of dumbass economist wouldn’t like that? To have everyone be fed, clothed and housed. Ah, welcome to bourgeoise bliss.
To paraphrase Barry Manilow, somewhere far down the road, I know our resources will dry up then, it doesn’t really matter when. There’s too much waste in the system right now. Too much stuff being bought and sold. Too many Bangladeshi workers churning out one time sex t-shirts, too many Turkish factories making one time sex bed linen, and way, way too many Chinese laborers putting up unnecessary one time sex buildings.
It’s bad for the environment in the short run, it’s bad for laborers in the mid-term, and in the long run, my small non-PhD brain would like to hazard a guess and say that consumerism is not sustainable and we’re all fucked. I’d hazard an even further guess and say that in the long run, the only sustainable thing to do would be a shift back to quality craftsmanship. You know, heirloom type shit that lasts a few generations.
I have no models, or formulas to present. I just don’t believe in capitalism the way it’s set up right now. It is the democratization of “stuff”, but hey, nobody said democracy was the way to go.
And at this point, I’m not about to give up on my one time sex anything. I can’t afford to.