The movie Bedazzled (the original with Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore) had a scene where the devil complained of his lack of creativity since the old days in coming up with new sins, listing advertising as the only one he’s come up with after the last seven. I can think of one more, and find the absence of wastefulness among the originals disturbing. Besides greed its one of the greatest sins destroying us today.
Wastefulness is so commonly chided, it’s surprising not to see it listed in any religious texts (so far as I know). It’s related to greed or gluttony, but it’s not quite the same thing. Greed means accumulating more due to excessive want, but wastefulness is the lack of want. It’s not giving a shit about the things you have. Gluttony is closer, when it means over-consumption, but again it seems to assume you actually consume all you take rather than acquiring it only to throw it away.
Perhaps it was less of an issue in pre-industrial times. After all, when you don’t have much and have to struggle for all you get, you tend to appreciate it more. When clean water isn’t something you take for granted, you’re less likely to literally piss it away by the gallon when you flush the toilet (more conscientious societies use grey water for this instead). I don’t think anyone in Biblical times or the Medieval era could even fathom a world so glutted with goods as ours.
Never before has there been an age where clothing is as cheap as rags, where food is so abundant farmers can afford to let half their fruit rot on the ground, and where plastic is so cheap to make it’s not actually worth recycling. This is mainly in the west of course, but China is catching up fast. They’re manufacturing most of this shit after all.
And that’s the problem. It’s all shit. There’s no point to most of the plastic junk we make. So many crappy gewgaws clutter up our lives, only to gather dust and cause us stress. Then when we get fed up with all of it, it’s so worthless the frugal course of action is to chuck it in the landfill. It’s not worth the energy to save it for anything. Farmers breed their fruit to look good, so it sells, while sacrificing the taste. Those super red giganto strawberries taste like styrofoam. I’ve eaten spotty strawberries and they were some of the best I’ve ever had. I buy bananas when they’re just starting to turn brown.
So often fruit tastes best when it’s just starting to look bad, but no one figures that out unless they’re trying to be frugal.
It’s not the rich who are the most wasteful either, because they don’t tend to buy all the cheap shit their factories make. It’s mostly a middle class problem. You get people like my SO, who grew up poor, associating frugality with a shittier life. When they finally make enough money not to worry, they start chucking out shoes that are only a little bit worn because, “Whatever. I can just buy some new ones.” I’d probably give him more hell about this if he didn’t donate his barely worn-out shoes to the homeless.
I frequently use “wasteful” as a reproach whenever I catch someone being exactly that. Codifying it as a deadly sin, which it bloody well is, probably wouldn’t help because the seven official ones are pretty fucking rampant. It needs to be acknowledged as something worse than “that thing your tightass mother/father/etc. nags you about” because that only brings out the rebellious ass in people. Not being wasteful needs to become a core ethic, because in this society it’s already well out of hand, and the disease is rapidly spreading across the developing world.
I wish Christmas wasn’t so associated with accumulating more crap.by