Sunday, February 14, 2010

Report from a week's immersion in corporate America

Thoughts on watching Nancy Grace
Our society's pervasive dissociation leads inevitably to a sociopathic sadism, which in turn results in an urge to punish the individual-other. We naturally do not want to punish ourselves, and so we perform conscience, we perform indignant outrage, these ritual performances focused by mass-cultural touchstones like Nancy Grace or crime procedurals like the Law and Order franchise or other similar resources. In this way we justify the brutally harsh punitive measures we delight in imposing, despite the fact that what we are punishing--that is, what we perform these horrified reactions about, what we act shocked by--is nothing we would not do ourselves, given a likelihood of getting away with it.

Does anyone fall for this shit?
Poland Spring has a bottle design called an "eco-shape" that they claim is good for the environment. I wish I had saved a label from one of the bottles I was forced to drink out of this week, because the phrasing on it is hilarious. Here's their corporate propaganda about it. Bottled water is perhaps the most purely evil thing on this earth.

Words have no meaning if the corporate world finds out about them
I was sent away for a week to train on a new computer system my employer is implementing. The extremely clear purpose of this system is to allow the company to do less for its clients with smaller staff. Every time the trainer introduced a feature of this system that was different from the way the company had done things in the past, he said it was "counter-cultural to the way we're used to doing things." I had come across the bizarre use of the word "culture" in a corporate context ("Hiring temps at this time of year is part of our culture here at [company]"), but "counter-culture" was new, and supremely bizarre, to me.


Soj said...

Bottled water is perhaps the most purely evil thing on this earth.

Now, see I would've gone for landmines myself but... ;)

A Brief Defense of Bottled Water

1) I can tell you're USA-centered here in your thinking because in many countries (such as where I live), some bottled water comes in GLASS, returnable and re-usable bottles.

2) True mineral water (as opposed to CO2 injected into "flat" water) is a far better source of calcium and other trace minerals than say cow milk is. Unless you live right by a spring, it's impossible to get without bottling it.

3) Empty bottles can and are re-used for a variety of things, up to and including storing homemade liquor (my personal favorite). And not just once but over and over.

4) The packaging on bottled water is no MORE wasteful than on any other liquid container (milk, juice, beer). In many cases it's far less harmful than say waxed paper with toxic ink printing.

5) Not everywhere is USA with clean tap water available on demand any time you want it.

6) Almost all bottled water is made with PET plastic. All clear PET bottles can be used to sterilize drinking water at no cost using UV exposure. It is literally the world's cheapest method to sterilize water from biological contaminants.

7) This sounds counter-intuitive but most plastic drinking bottles burn in way that leaves a lot of organic compounds and very few toxic elements. (Discarded) bottles do a lot more damage in countries where they're either a) buried in landfills or b) discarded on the surface and allowed to degrade into progressively smaller molecules until they reach the garbage patches in the ocean.


Ethan said...

How much are they paying you?

1. I am a bit US centered, I'll admit, although I won't confess to my "in the world" phrasing being the result of anything other than tragicomic exaggeration.

3. Regardless of what they can be used for, 80% of water bottles are thrown away after one use. This particular design is so flimsy as to practically guarantee it.

5. This is very true; however, bottled water is not the solution. In many places (e.g. Fiji), it's the problem. Corporations claiming sole use of, and commodifying, any of our dwindling sources of clean water is not a way to ensure the availability of clean water for all. Also, in a place like the US, which is the largest consumer of bottled water (and just about anything else), there is absolutely no need in most cases; standards for tap water safety are higher than for bottled water, and in many cases the bottled water is just tap water.

Your points are good, and I appreciate that bottled water perhaps shouldn't vanish entirely, but as people, particularly Americans, generally use it, it is a terrible, terrible thing.

Ethan said...

PS Yeah, landmines are pretty goddamn fucking evil. Did you see this?

Soj said...

Where's my big check from the plastic water bottle people? ;)

I must say I always find it rather odd this obsession about water bottles when as far as I can tell, every single liquid in the store comes in a one-time use disposable container.

For instance, walking into any convenience store, I'd say there's far more soda/pop bottles than plain water. All those bottles are exactly the same (as far as I know), get used the same (once) and dumped the same and it causes the same pollution.

What's the fuss over water bottles? I'd say that water bottles SOMETIMES do get re-used because the bottle is essentially clean. Soda/pop bottles? Effectively never get re-used.

The "tragedy" seems to be that because I (as USA resident) can fill up a container with the product (flat water) then it's some environmental shame that I pay someone else to do it.

But if the same exact company adds a little sugar (or HCFS) and caramel color then magically it's "okay" and *what can you do? shrug* or what?

Next time you're at work or at the mall or somewhere, glance in the garbage can. Are there more soda bottles or water bottles in there? IOW is Pepsi cranking out more Pepsi bottles or Dasani bottles?

Regardless, if one-time use plastic bottles are the scourge of the earth (even if they originally held "only" Dr. Pepper), the answer seems to be either:

1) Make it back to the 1960's or earlier, where all bottles were glass - and possibly even the old deposit and return for cash scheme - bottles returned, washed and re-used.

2) Make a bio-degradable plastic for drink containers (regardless of ingredient bias).

Sounds more far-fetched than it really is though as not all plastic necessarily has to come from petroleum.

3) Find a new way for people to haul around single "portions" of liquids. Earthenware jars? Waxed paper cups? Collapsible localized force fields? :P

Soj said...

BTW on that landmine thing, I got only two words for ya: JURASSIC PARK


Anonymous said...

soj, i don't know if you've heard of some amazing new discoveries. here's one:

water is necessary to live.

none of that other crap you mention is.

and you know what's better than a water bottle? a water fountain.

Soj said...

"None of that other crap" is necessary to live, eh? Well:

1) Pollution is caused by both "necessary" things as well as "unnecessary" and if people are consuming one BILLION bottles/cans of Coca-Cola per day (which they are), it's a reality that needs facing.

2) Sodas and all the rest ARE 99% water. They keep you hydrated and abate death almost as well as "plain" water.

Not to mention a company making both soda (Pepsi) and water (Dasani) is putting the same water in the same bottles - the only difference is one (Pepsi) has a little color and sweetener.

The "evilness" of bottled drinks is the same regardless of content :P

Ethan said...

The "evilness" of bottled drinks is the same regardless of content

This is absolutely true and your point is well taken. I guess what I'm trying to get at is the more general commodification of necessities, which is a much larger issue that bottled water is just one expression of. I should remember in the future that my tendency to hyperbole can be silly and distractingly ineffective.

Your Jurassic Park reference took me a moment to figure out but when I did I really cracked up.

Anonymous said...

maybe when you're being hyperbolic you could spell it "evyil"