Disposable items – I wonder what other recent invention gave the markets a comparable push? Because the motion of the wheel of consumption they generate is seemingly perpetuate and apart from ease of use, very rarely (if ever) in favour of the consumer: while cheaper per purchase (or recently: per initial purchase; I am looking at you, ink printers or coffee cup machines), in the long run they always, without exception, cost much more and invariably generate more waste (on top of more energy used for production).
If one was to translate the name directly, disposable razors would be called “single-use razors” in Polish. They are not literally “single use” razor blades, of course; like in the rest of the world, they are meant to be used until the blade looses its sharpness and then disposed (something the English name conveys much better), in contrast to the original razor blade which could then be sharpened and used again.
The reason why I bring this up is that while most Polish people do use a disposable razor more than once and they find the idea of actually using it only once silly and wasteful, they do not find it preposterous enough to automatically discard the wrong genealogy of the name, at least not any more, which I find very telling of the society at large: we have became very wasteful and increasingly used to throwing things away, completely disregarding not only the environmental issues we create, but also the strain it creates on our budgets.
It is hard to oppose what has become engraved in our culture, especially when it is the source of wealth – and thus power – for (some) people. The consumption on its own is also necessary for the stable existence of the market; but the current situation simply lacks balance.
I find it quite ironical that while the cycle as a whole was set up because of money (what else? it is always, regrettably, about money), it is most often than not also money that gives some consumers a wake-up slap they need to realise how much exactly are they spending on disposable items. While not always the final argument, it is the finances that make them question the actual degree of impact the “go disposable” items have on their lives. Disposable diapers or female hygiene products? Thousands of dollars in case of the diapers alone and one does not even begin to approach subjects like bleaching the product to give it the (false) “snow-white clean” look or waste generation.
I don’t really have much of a summary to offer. Just a reasuring (I hope, still new to a lot of this) pat on my wallet and an amusing thought that not everything a society does / manufactures is always strictly speaking an all-around improvement over how things were handled before: my Mom, like her Mom and an endless chain of mothers before (and alongside them) used cotton pads do deal with menstruation flow and cotton diapers for her baby. Now this baby, all grown up, considers going back to those ways because it all seems more reasonable to her. Progress!