Hidden Costs

What are the real hidden costs to our modern day living?

Today I looked at the ageing and rather ugly fluorescent light illuminating my kitchen. I had a thought that I should get myself a better energy saving one. One that’s better for the environment. But after having some small thoughts about this, I realised that buying a new light is probably the most thoughtless desire I’ve had all day.

Let’s face it, I might get a 50% reduction in my energy usage or better, if I were to go with an LED variety. But the fact remains: how much energy has already been expended in the manufacture of my old fluorescent one? How much energy to dispose of it: a perfectly serviceable item?

I thought about the iron ore, probably mined in Western Australia, which was shipped to China, where it was smelted and rolled out into sheets, which was then trucked to a sheet metal factory. I thought of the Copper, most likely mined in Papua New Guinea, which was shipped somewhere and converted into wire. I thought of the plastics that made the insulation surrounding that wire, & the petrochemicals that went into making the plastic. I thought of the white oxide that went into the paint. I thought of the various companies that made the various electronic pieces: the brass, the tin, the carbon, the wire and more that makes up the regulator ballast that is inside. And the starter. And the fine glass that was mined and smelted and then lined and then filled with mercury vapour…

I was awhirl.

I thought then of the trucks and the people shipping these components and parts all over the world to end up in a factory to be assembled. I thought of the paper trail of work orders, invoices, time slips and receipts, for every single item, for every step of the way.

And I was going to just throw this fluorescent light out because there was a new version that might save a bit of non renewable electricity and might save me some coin?

At what cost?

I am ashamed at myself.

We need to do much much better than reduce emissions. We need to take the responsibility that we are enabling this insanely chaotic manufacturing inside a bubble of rampant consumerism, bought today and thrown out tomorrow. All the while, Mother Earth tries to give as life, while we mine and dig and rape it into oblivion.