In the suburbs of Melbourne’s East it is Hard Rubbish time. The streets are dotted with collections of white goods, cases, toys, baby car seats and, so much mdf and plywood. I have seen so many scooters, bicycles and the ever present glass top outdoor table. I have yet to take anything off of these collections though I am sure my Grandfather would have.
My Grandfather the great Up-cycler
My Grandfather would walk from his house out to what he called “The Hole”. It was where people would illegally dump stuff. Mainly cars, white goods and bicycles. He would go out with a little trailer (also found up at “The Hole”) and come back with what he could repair or use. His shed was filled to the brim with bikes of all shapes and sizes. One time he needed a bench saw so he took the motor from a washing machine and made his own. “I don’t know!” He would exclaim. “Perfectly good things and they just throw it away.”
So when I was delivering Pizza Sunday night and saw a trailer filled with fridges, washing machines and bicycles I had to get a picture of it to show you all. It reminded me of what my Grandfather did. The bloke with the trailer was a scrap metal dealer and this was a boon for him. He bemoaned that people did not fix bicycles anymore. I told him about my grandfather but there was not enough time to talk any further. I am so glad I saw his trailer because I would not have written this article without it.
We throw things out that are broken, which is responsible and stops our homes becoming a dump. Though our dumps are filled with so much stuff. We buy so many things over the years and most of them are not designed to last very long at all. It creates demand for more products which is considered good business practice. Money is exchanged for goods, which in turn provides jobs for those who sell, make and manage the flow of these goods. The money of course goes towards creating more goods and hopefully paying wages. Money exchanges hands and oils the gears of the businesses . This is the theory.
Though the question you could ask like Dr. Seuss did in The Lorax is where do all these products come from? All these goods that are now piled up in collections outside homes for hard rubbish come from natural resources. Sure, the plywood and mdf sheets are from plantations but the metal and plastic all come from the ground. Like me you have heard the calls for recycling, that there is only so much we can dig out of the earth, then there is no more. In the midst of this knowledge I still have bought a new phone and laptop. The reason being that after five years you have to change to be able to run the software. These products age badly and we expect them to break. At worst we get rid of old things because the new ones are obviously better.
Nature, Sacred Spaces, Secularism and Science
Nature in many cultures is revered and venerated, worshiped and considered sacred. Historically Christianity has relics and holy spaces which are still today held in awe. Around the time of Martin Luther there was a move away from physical representations of the holy to an ascetic and spiritual focus. The protest of the Protestants was one that has been enlarged on within the secular push of scientific and technological developments. As the world has been explored and analysed the curtain has been torn. The mysteries have been solved and god is just another German word. That which was once sacred and holy has become materials that humanity manipulates for its own benefit. There is no way for them to be sacred because there is no god to make them sacred anyway.
Ok that was a big leap. A leap we need because it all starts with my Grandfather and his exclamation that people are throwing away things that can be repurposed. As the scrap metal dealer said people do not fix their bicycles anymore. When a new product comes it replaces an older one. Even if the product works it is thrown away. It is good business to make people buy new versions of the same products. Technology with its cures, remedies and comforts demands us to look forward onward into the new. In the constant acceleration of this hyper-active demand for out attention and of course our money we have left nature and the sacred behind.
De-Mystified Society Has No Treasures
As I drive past the many collections of flatscreen tv’s, glass outdoor tables, baby carseats and the myriad of razor scooters I see how we have been lead away from the sacred. We used to fix things. My Grandfathers generation had to. It was a time of poverty and scarcity. My Grandfather kept this way of thinking and when he saw the growing waste he tried to do what he could. It lead to a huge container being filled with bicycles he had fixed and made shipped to kids in Africa. Bikes thrown away were treasured, perhaps, for the first time.
We live in a world that has been de-mystified, removed of awe and wonder. Filled with stuff that amuses for a short time, till the next amusement arrives. It is so far from the pictures of these kids with my Grandfathers bicycles. Pictures that had pride of place up on the refrigerator. We need to see the gift of the created world and realise the scandalous nature of our throw-away society.
Phillip Hall has been too long in Melbourne to see AFL in the same light as those back in Fremantle. East Fremantle born and bred, he would love to see the Dockers back in the eight. But would settle for just beating West Coast twice a year.