Everything is Rubbish!

All the factories in all the world are just making rubbish. All that differs is the speed and path of the trajectory from Factory to Dump.

Friends, when I say that “Everything is Rubbish“, this is not the moaning of a 60-year old man dissatisfied with new-fangled ways.

This is the insight of a 60-year old man who has seen with perfect clarity that, with very few exceptions, every object one ever ‘owns’ is really just ‘leased’ as it makes its way from a factory to a dump.


Recently I have been sorting my way through a loft filled with the detritus of bringing up two children, along with a few items of memorabilia from earlier in my own life.

And the following thought is irrepressible:

If anyone else looked at this they would call it junk“.

And in a related theme, a couple of close friends have recently been charged with sorting the belongings of a deceased parent.

And items which were one preciously hoarded as treasures, are revealed in the cold light of a parent’s absence to have negative monetary value: they are impossible even to give away.

And in a further related theme, I tried to play a VHS-Video Cassette the other day – and the player would not play. [PAUSE for younger readers to laugh at this folly].

I looked inside and poked around – they really are ingenious! – but to no avail. This package of metal and components is now junk. And so are all the 100 or so video cassettes. In their day I probably paid £1000 for them. Now, all the subtlety and artistry that went into their creation is worth nothing.

What has lasted?

I do have a small number of items which have lasted longer than the average.

  • I have a couple of photographs of my parents’ wedding – these are 68 years old and still in excellent condition.
  • Most days I still use the calculator that I bought in 1978 before I went to University. And I have a few books from that era too.
  • And I still regularly listen to music through  a pair of Wharfedale Denton loudspeakers. These were a present from my father for my 18th birthday in 1978. I recall that he could not believe that a pair of loudspeakers could conceivably cost £55 – but if were he alive today he would be pleased at their longevity.

But even for these items, it is not that they will last forever, but simply that the arc of their trajectory from factory to dump is slightly longer.

Why do I mention this?

Because the truth has struck me hard in the last few weeks.

  • All the factories in the world are really Rubbish Factories

All that differs is the category of rubbish and the arc of its path from Factory to Dump.

I know I am not the first person to mention this.

And I know that my own life is not a good exemplar of a life which minimises the amount of rubbish generated.

But it just struck me as being deeply, deeply true.






5 Responses to “Everything is Rubbish!”

  1. Edmond Hui Says:

    Welcome to Buddhism. Except this. This simple thing has a very long and beautiful arc. Few things give me the more £ to satisfaction of ownership ratio, less guilt that I have caused it to be manufactured.

  2. yuki88 Says:

    Not everything Michael!! Lego.. so long as this won’t be made out of bio degradable plastic this surely is the gift that keeps on giving. Sheffield stainless steel spoons .. ever lasting and I expect being passed on through generations- very hard to find the ones I’m after on eBay!

    Other than than these I do agree that most factory produced stuff will go to the dump and these days the time from factory to dump is a matter of months. So many 1* Amazon reviews now report things breaking down after a few months – even well known brands.

    Now I try to get replacement parts for anything that works now so that I can fix things in the future and I upcycle as much as I can.

  3. Ross Mason Says:

    Happy New Year Michael. My epiphany was the winter of 1982 at Scott Base. Being on Mouse Duty (the midnight to dawn….. there is midnight but no dawn in midwinter) one had to watch for fires and vacuum the place out. You had to pass the time somehow. 1. The bags supplied for the Tellus were too small and this caused the first and only time I threw a tanty at the Base Engineer who wouldn’t supply the right ones. 2. Dust. Where the f&%k does it come from? Every time I emptied the bag there was another load. After a few Mouse sessions the answer dawned. It just moves around. It is never gotten rid of. You just shift it and unfortunately make some other place dirtier.

    We have a garage full of Mums flat and Kris’s Dads flat. This had already been sifted for treasure when they moved twice in the last 10 years. Yet, as you say, once were treasures. Alas, no more. It’s a generation thing.

    • protonsforbreakfast Says:

      Ross and Kris. Happy Christmas to you both, and best wishes for you in the New Year as you work your way through that garage…

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