Day 160: MLwC and when making things easy makes things worse

In the USA, making things easier and then selling tons of those easy things is the basis of our entire economy and consumer culture. It’s human nature: easy is good, difficult is bad. But as with all good things, there is a tipping point where good goes bad.

In the world of “easy things,” that tipping point is often related to over-consumption. At this time of year, I think of all the garden watering contraptions that have been invented–to take the trouble out of the task of watering. Most of them rely heavily on a broadcast spray functionality that could not–really!–could not be more wasteful. On an 80 degree day, spraying water into the air guarantees losing about half of what you’re pumping out.

Sierra Club blog had a good quote a few months back that comes to mind:

“The greenest ballpark in the country may be Fenway Park, because only an idiot would try driving and parking there.” (Sports Illustrated, March 2007)

And over at Confessions of a Green Girl Wannabe Marguerite, who is in Paris right now, notes that:

There is some advantage to not having access to the comfort of modern appliances. In our Paris appartment, I still have not figured out how to use the wash machine. The dryer appears to be even more of a mystery. One [interesting] consequence has been how little dirty laundry we have generated as a result.

Fast food is easy–so easy, we eat too much of it. Driving is easy–so easy, we forget other forms of transportation, or even forget how nice it might be to hang closer to home. Getting a double tall split shot cappuccino is ridiculously easy–and our landfills are overflowing with plastic and paper cups to prove it.

I rarely drive downtown anymore. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I did, and I would not have predicted that a year ago. I resonate with the Fenway park quote above: driving downtown is so hard anymore that I’ve learned a hundred other ways to get there–all smarter and less impacting than driving.

What other things might be better if they were just a wee bit more difficult? And how on earth could we possibly sell such an idea to an entire culture that bases its choices on “easy livin'”?

Daily Stats: (Wed)
Car: 0
Bike: 0
Ped: 3 miles
Bus: 0
internet: all day long.

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3 responses to “Day 160: MLwC and when making things easy makes things worse

  1. Cass,

    I thought I should share this short vignette with you. This morning, on our way to the farmers’ market, Prad and I witnessed what struck me as a perfect illustration of the ‘too easy living’ phenomenon. Picture this. Two SUVs stop at a street corner, they are obviously part of the same caravan. Out of each car, an overweight kid comes out with a big Mac Donald bag, overflowing with greasy wrappers, and shoves it down the city garbage can. I wish I had brought my camera!

    Marguerite (back in Palo Alto, enjoying lovely Sunday morning with Green Guru . . .)

  2. I’m sure I speak for many others whose first thought upon reading this was: at least he used the garbage can instead of just throwing it out the window.

    I know I’ve lowered the bar considerably with that response 😉

    Good story though and if you had had your vid camera, I’m sure you’d get some traffic on YouTube!

  3. Pingback: Days 360-365: MLwC hits the Year End Mark « What it’s like

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