Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Fewer Branches on the Future Tree

It seems to me that I probably belong to the last American generation that will accumulate more stuff than those that preceded it. Peak oil, peak build-out, peak pile of junk in the garage.

My family does not have a garage. And no, we don't rent any self-storage units, either. We were afraid that if we had the space provided by these, we'd fill them up with stuff.

Our neighbor next door has a two-car garage, but he has to leave his vehicles in the driveway. There are too many plastic paint cans, boxes, plumbing supplies, and rubber chickens cluttering it up so there's no room in there for his Beamer.

As availability of cheap fossil fuels declines, our piles of stuff will get smaller. It'll be too expensive to make some things; many things. And it will become too costly to make things in far-off places where cheap labor (another kind of energy) can be exploited and goods can be shipped profitably halfway across the globe. The "warehouse on wheels" will fail as a business model.

Manufacturing may return to our United States. It'll be cheaper to just make stuff here again, to avoid high transportation costs.

Anyways, my feeling is that the future will look more like the past than the present. Our sons and daughters will have to work harder for less.


wunelle said...

Yeah. Stuff takes on a life of its own, filling every crack and void.

Our house is absurdly big for two of us (but was an historical thing not to be missed).

But it took us no time at all to fill it up.

Eli Blake said...

I think there is some deep-seated desire, left over from when we were kids, to collect 'stuff.'

Let's face it. Most of our parents (at least if you're as old as me) grew up during the depression and didn't have a lot of stuff. So when they became parents and could afford to buy us things, they did and they spoiled us rotten. I love them for it, but I admit to having gotten spoiled by 'stuff.' So now I admit that I spoil my own kids. They've got a whole room downstairs that they haven't even been in for about two years that is full of cheap plastic toys that probably just need to be bagged up and dropped off at the local toy donation center sometime before Christmas (most of it is still in a condition that it could provide some joy to some other little kid. But mine will be twelve next week, so they're into music and computer games and makeup and all the rest of that pre-teen stuff that girls get into.

Ruth said...

The hell of moving has several times forced me to consolidate that stuff. It hasn't cured me. Retirement recently removed the need for 'professional' clothes, and I'm suffering horrible guilt for the amount I need to dispose of. Thanks for reminding me. It's time to do the garage sale thing. Maybe soon. Maybe.