‘This has to be the wettest April ever,’ Camp complained as soon as we were seated. ‘Mind you people read books when they can’t go outside. And the ducks are happy.’
‘My washing machine broke down, meaning the machine sounded like it was full of chains instead of laundry. I spent the next few hours trying to find out what’s wrong, how to fix it and how much it would cost.’
‘Let me guess: You couldn’t find a tecky in Gibsons, the problem could be fatal for the machine and parts could be weeks away and the cost prohibitive,’ Camp said.
‘How did you know? I spoke to a rep for two hours until he asked me for my zip code at which point he confessed that his branch office did not service Canada. A sad waste of time. Next, I watched some U-Tube clips about fixing my specific washer problem and how to solve it. Turns out that the machine is built to fail, after about ten years. An aluminium part next to a stainless steel drum which is frequently full of water. There is such a thing as galvanic corrosion which happens when the metals are exposed to a liquid like water. Really? Electricity is conducted between the stainless-steel cathode and the aluminum anode. It’s a washing machine for chrissake! Something the makers of these machines are perfectly aware of. My machine is only six years old.’
‘Spacex is building a new Starship since the first one exploded shortly after takeoff. Musk calls it a success. Think about that! I suppose you’re buying a new washing machine?’
’That’s exactly right. What really irks me is that nobody wants to fix my machine and nobody knows what to do with it. You can recycle it when you buy the replacement. For a small fee that is. Ok, I said, what do you do with my old machine? They didn’t know. Recycle is just an acronym for garbage. It could mean landfill, crusher or ship it to some third world country that imports non-working, outdated and discarded electronics and appliances.’
‘Who imports this stuff anymore?’
Turns out China is still the biggest importer of e-waste. They make it, export it and then take it back as garbage. So does Vietnam and some developing countries in Asia and West Africa. For all I know my six-year-old machine will end up where it was built. In China.’
‘It’s a shame, the amount of garbage we produce. Of course, the US is the largest producer of waste, generating about 265 million metric tons of garbage in 2018 alone. China produced slightly less, about 215 metric tons. A metric ton is 1000 kilograms or around 2200 pounds. On average, Canadians produce about 720kg of garbage per year, almost ¾ of a metric ton.’
‘Looks like you just added to that with your washing machine. Let’s face it, we’re a throwaway society, from packaging to food waste, from electronics to cars. Where did all the old cathode TV’s go? or the old amplifiers and massive stereo speakers? What about all the waterbeds?’
‘What happens to all the unsold books,’ I asked.
‘About ten percent of all newly published titles end up getting shredded. Worldwide, around 320 million books end up in a landfill every year,’ Camp said.
‘Reality is often depressing. BC Hydro wants to leave construction debris at the bottom of the Peace River. For future fish habitat in the massive lake behind the new dam. Talk about taking care of garbage.’
‘I need another beer.’
Camp laughed and just in time Vicky showed up with the refills. ‘What’s funny? You’re both laughing.’
‘There is nothing funny here but my friend is celebrating his new washing machine.’