(99) A Working Definition of Waste

Finally after three weeks I have satisifed (for the moment) my perverse need for a working definition of waste.  Not sure how I thought of it on the way home and I am sure it is not original at all and a recyled construct from the readings but this is what I’m thinking “Waste is that which is not yet or no longer commodified.”  So this puts waste in the present, yet conditioned by its past use or its “as yet to be used-ness” (useless until the future arrives). Thus waste is historically relative to the conditions of production and consumption which among other things relieves  a nagging feeling I’ve had about all this commodification of waste by greening which feels to me as a reiteration of social structures as opposed to being revolutionary.  Speaking of recylcing I suspect I got this definition from  Benjamin Franklin’s definition of a weed as a plant no use has been found for.

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2 Comments»

  99hooker wrote @

The other advantage of temporal definition is that allows one to construct genealogies – so that tin for instance could be in the earth uncommodifed, and mined, turned into a tin can, filled with soda, drunk, thrown away and then recovered and recycled – thus its status (kind of like a green card) can be talked about as it moves between commodity and not and also with different genealogies based on the producer/consumer. Once the can is sold from the factory it is no longer a commodity and is remembered only as an equivelency of capitial; once the soda is drunk its usefulness is also used up, etc – so in a push for the endless effort to commodify the universe, one could say that recycling encourages the soda drinker to no longer see the empty can as waste, but rather as a commodity that has use to society (aluminum to be extracted and the internalization of the object as opposed to its externalization. The argument thus contests the idea that capitialism wants to externalize or even marginalize its waste products and such things are failures of capitialism)

  jessica wrote @

Do you know the source of that Franklin passage? I’d actually like to read it.

So you’ve undercut you’re own definition then, since there’s no doubt waste is a business.


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