My current home in Toronto’s annex neighbourhood is a weird place and time in which to live. Many of the people up and down my street are simultaneously funding cosmetic renovations to their houses, like installing smooth new bricks and stairs. At the same time, there are people who I see daily and who seem to earn their living by picking liquor bottles out of the city’s big blue wheeled recycling bins.
It all makes me feel like people here don’t understand what is going on. The rich landowners are shelling out in hopes of boosted social status or because of psychological insecurity. At the same time, glass and metal containers which could be recycled just as well by the standard municipal recycling service are worth collecting and bringing to specific stores, at the same time as society largely ignores the harm associated with alcohol, and even encourages its use. In Canada, the four kinds of drugs that cause the most damage to individuals and society are alcohol, tobacco, opiates, and benzodiazepines. People who spend their labour collecting liquor vessels provide no benefit to society, since it doesn’t matter whether municipal recycling or Ontario’s liquor sales system collects the glass and aluminium. Within three blocks of here, restaurants burn methane to encourage customers to sit outside.
This is all magnified by my concern about climate change. All the credible science shows that continuing with business as usual will destroy nations, yet people continue to feel entitled to burn as much fossil fuel as they can afford. People find the flimsiest excuse to justify wasting energy on heating or cooling large spaces, flying thousands of kilometres in jets, and constantly adding to their stocks of material possessions. If there are people in the future, they will probably be right to judge us harshly: as the ones who knew the ruin they were imposing for their own fun and convenience and who chose like psychopaths to do it all anyway.