A friend told me of a surprising find in a skip at local recycling centre. Sitting in a skip was, as far as he could tell, a perfectly serviceable Moog Synthesiser 1962 vintage. The sort played by Kraftwerk he thought. I’d seen one played by Keith Emerson in ELP at Trentham Gardens in 1971- but the less said about that the better. The point is that here seemed to be a possibly functioning piece of kit, which could fetch around £1000. My friend pleaded with the manager to let him have the Synthesiser.
The manager refused on health and safety grounds that someone might be injured and sue the authority. It was a deeply frustrating experience. My friend was told that among other implausible stuff brought to the centre included cut up sections of a Chevrolet Car- it suggests the Johnny Cash song. Also, dumped at the recycling centre were items including wash machines still wrapped in plastic and other new appliances.
The willingness of locals, on this evidence, to throw away perfectly electrical goods is perplexing. It has been going on for sometime. The disposable culture started early. In 1892 William Painter, founder of the Baltimore Bottle Seal Company, patented the bottle cap. The bottles were returned, but the bottle caps got thrown away. They only worked once. Painter’s chief salesman at the time was King Camp Gillette, who went on to apply the principle to his own invention, the disposable razor blade. Today almost everything has its disposable version and the concept has been taken a step further until we see the grotesque waste evidenced at Fowlchurch. We now live in a disposable culture. What a Waste!
I once, by way of an analogy, met a woman who worked for the Arts Council in Mongolia in the 1990s after Communism fell. She had a job re-organising the Mongolian publishing industry. She told me that under the old system the canons of Marxist- Leninist thought were printed unread by the locals, pulped and then printed again. It seemed to me as good a metaphor for the waste in capitalism as it is for failed Communism