I shop differently than I used to. I also don't pay for many things anymore. I guess knowing of the incredible treasures to be found in the garbage can lead to that real quick. But anyhoo, how quickly things change.
I went through a phase once of spending lots of money on wellness shit and organic food. I was making a fair bit of money during this time so it worked. Then life happened, I became frugal (raiding clearance sections ayyy), and began to spend less and less. Later I spent all my money on yoga trainings and travel. Money became a limited resource. Lucky for me, some great souls spoke of dumpster diving in a way that gave me the confidence to try it. And so I did, and my first night at it I pulled out three full boxes of organic produce in seconds (high score yo). It’s kind of a super power. Just last night I was walking down Bronson and found a great Columbia sleeping bag in some sidewalk garbage bin which I then slept in that same night.
“Thats nice”, you say. Indeed it is. Not worrying about money as much has done wonders. Being able to travel almost moneyless was a magical experience. I don’t pay for food very often anymore (at least when I have time to cook, lately that’s been a challenge). My line of work in food waste recovery and redistribution on campuses helps out a fair bit (a lot) when times get tough, but that aside, I know the ways.
Walking down the produce section, you notice many a blemish on assorted sections of produce. People seem to be averse to said blemishes, so there is a fair expectation that they may be thrown away. So all those apples and tomatoes are basically garbage that hasn’t made its way to the compactor yet. But wait! See all those other shiny pristine pieces of granny smiths about? Imagine a third or so will be tossed too. Now stop imagining and understand that a third of those grannies (or some other significant amount) will be tossed too. Likewise for all the other produce too. And those cosmetics too. And the packaged food items too. And meat and dairy and bread. Basically, a lot of it will end up in the garbage, compacted or recoverable in the bags in the dumpster (heheh).
This is what I see in grocery stores. I see inevitable waste (I see other things too). And then I go around back when the sun sets and it’s all right there. And I can have it. Only this time I don’t have to pay for it. And I get a workout out of it too (diving is quite laborious, let me tell you). It's a predictable series of events, happening every day, in almost every food selling establishment everywhere. And it’s makes me gag. I don’t need that many containers of yoghurt, or 20 different bottles of assorted supplements and herb powders in capsule form. Or eyeshadow. A bunch of kale, some root veggies and a loaf of bread do me well. Think broccoli is scary? Imagine having to decide whether to drag two dozen heads back home or take one and accept that it will be wasted. You get over it pretty quick though, you’d be dead before you can carry that much produce home.
Maybe they should give it away or something. Maybe to their employees. Could be a thing to try
The political landscape has been widely dominated by the same social class: white men from middle class families who tend to have a background in law or business. As a result, growing up I always thought the road towards political office was through these faculties. But this assumption, as it turns out, is the very problem stratifying our current political structure. Hence why we need a political shift, and the first to lead this shift should be activists in various fields; people who are passionate about education, queer rights, civil rights, healthcare, education and so forth. Most importantly, these activists need to do it on their own agenda, rather than by following the old guards’ path.
Deray Mckesson embodies this political shift better than anyone in recent years. The 30-year-old educator gained prominence as an activist for the Black Lives Matter movement following the murders of Michael Brown in August 2014. Since then, he’s amassed over 333, 000 twitter followers, met with the President of the United States, and many notable celebrities, and not without his own political credentials. In August 2015, with the help of fellow activists, he launched an election campaign platformed on a set of policy proposals aimed at reducing police violence, called Campaign Zero. Though with a good initial response, Deray Mckesson finished 6th with only 2% of the votes. Although his election may not have been as successful as he had hoped, Mckesson shaped the conversation surrounding Baltimore’s municipal elections by forcing other candidates to address issues like police accountability, education, and transparency.
Attempting to successfully enter politics in order to hold legitimate power can also come with a fair share of criticism. Such was the case for Léo Bureau-Blouinas, who became the youngest elected MNA in the history of the province of Quebec after rising to prominence during the 2012 student protests. Bureau-Blouinas became the target of many critics when the Parti Québécois agreed to an annual indexation of 3% on university tuition - a seeming reversal of election promises. To many, this compromise appeared as the proof that his activism was a way to promote his self-interest as he rose through the political ranks, rather than a sense of civic duty.
Nevertheless, if the current political discourse is teaching us something, it’s that we need more than just business moguls and Yale law graduates running for office. If we want public policy that reflects the needs of the most vulnerable communities, then activists alike will have to be uncompromising when running for political office, and when the position is attained.
Modernism in the philosophical tradition began with the advent of the scientific revolution: upon realizing the mechanical nature of the universe, artists, scientists and political theorists alike attempted to systematize the world using what they held to be pure rationality. Eurocentrist thinkers believed they derived through reason the inalienable rights of all human beings, and it was up to those enlightened Westerners to bestow their divine wisdom to the ‘uncivilized savages’ of the new world. The result of this ideology was the ethnocide of countless colonized nations, the exploitation of human beings justified by the condescending values of the most powerful people in the world - namely straight, cis-gendered, Western men of the upper social class. For instance, the French held their culture to be the highest of humanity, which thereby allowed them to justify this imperialism and the fascist marginalization of their colonies. The fact that Europeans had the ability to colonize other nations was not a result of their inherent superiority, but rather of geographical contingencies that allowed them to economically develop in a way that was conducive to growing empires. Postmodern theorists have eventually come to realize that any perceived ‘universal’ values are actually dependent on cultural and life experiences, and that rationality is biased by the norms, time, and place into which one is born. The modernist notion of universal human rights transcending specific cultural practices has given way for a new, ethically relativist view: respect for the autonomy of other cultures and not to impose your ideals upon them, as their practices are just as valid as one’s own. Some oppressive measures that were justified by the notion of ‘universal human rights’ were halted, which had the liberating effect of emancipating people of races, sexual orientations, and religion that were considered ‘deviant’ from the imperialistic norm. Within the Postmodernist framework, the ‘objective rationality’ of those in power has been decentralized, its immutable truth rejected, which leaves room for marginalized people to express themselves in a meaningful way. For all of its positive effects, Postmodernism has also left society with a great ambiguity: the possibility of all views being equally valid, and what could be liberating is in actuality leading to anxiety resulting from a lack of concrete truth. If we cannot apply totalizing principles to resolve ambiguity, all one can do is helplessly accept the heterogeneity. In this framework, the United Nations have no legitimacy in protecting human rights, because the varying countries/cultures ought to have the right to self-determine what they consider to be unacceptable actions. On a smaller scale, this ethical relativity implies that one ought not to impose their ideology upon another individual, because there is no objective ‘reason’ to appeal to beyond subjective experiences. The proposal of moral dictums seems patronizing given that the supposed injurer’s actions have been wholly dictated by their biological makeup, culture, and personal experiences. In this determinist view, one could not reasonably be held responsible for their actions, and there is no universal standard against which to weigh the moral implications. One could justify the penalization of wrongdoings based on what the established laws of a given society are, but those laws would have no justification beyond what were ultimately arbitrary cultural norms becoming legislation. Is the perpetual uncertainty and subjectivity of Postmodernism the inevitable final stage of human thought, or is this merely another challenge for modernist rationality? How can we achieve a balance between the passionate aspirations of perfection in modernism and the decentralizing analytic implications of Postmodernism? Is there any way of selectively choosing the admirable aspects of each view, synthesizing them into the next stage of human thought? How are we to deal with the immediate problems of human rights issues on one end, and the imposition of oppressive, patronizing ‘universal’ values from the other? Postmodernism can be used as a critical tool to destabilize what is held as ‘objective reason’ ( as usually espoused by a privileged group of people), but it cannot also justify any actions that refer to a transcendent rationality, even if they are noble gestures. The diametrically opposed options of ethnocide and inaction are pure ideologies, but a compromise between the two must be made for international human rights to be protected in a justified, meaningful way.