Sustainability. That’s why we leave out our carefully separated categories of waste on a Friday. It’s about making the planet sustainable and slowing down the voracious accelerated digestion of the world’s natural wealth. A cynical view might suggest that the oil companies will not switch their focus to sustainability until the last drop of oil has gone. Certainly this week’s sheep-like emptying of petrol stations suggests that what we learned about inelastic demand in our O-Level Economics lessons remains true.
Personally, I derive a lot of pleasure from making continued use of old technology. There is a JVC turntable in the attic that I bought with my student grant in the early eighties. I remember carrying it up Reading high street, knowing that the purchase was driven by emotion rather than sense. But it still works and I do make occasional use of it. In its thirty year life it has only needed a new belt and a few styluses. Modern amps don’t tend to have a phono stage, but there are ways of getting around that. I derive the same pleasure from smartphones and from equipment that lets you hear what sound recordists and post-production engineers actually intended you to hear when you’re watching a film. I have several cubic feet of VHS upstairs. The point being that a religious devotion to the old and a religious devotion to the new are equally stupid: they co-exist organically. Social media have changed the way we look at the world, forever. Social media have changed traditional mass media, forever. To say that you don’t trust Facebook and Twitter, and that you don’t see the point of them, is somewhat like saying that you don’t trust and don’t see the point of the engine management system under the bonnet of your car.
A door is one of our oldest technological systems. Recently I have been involved in the stripping thereof, rolling back some of our internal doors to an earlier version of their software. In the seventies, Door 2.0 was considered to be flat and easy to clean, so wooden doors would have sheets of hardboard nailed over them with panel pins. Instant flat door. The hardboard comes off easily enough, but the stripping and sanding consume time. Time I am happy to consume in that way though. The affluent solution is, I know, to take them and get them dipped. But I enjoy the aching hands and physical weariness at the end the day. They help me sleep. They help keep me sustainable.