Friday, August 15, 2008

throwaway - Part 1

Being half Swiss and having been exposed since very young to the frugalism that defines most of Europe (that, amusingly, here in the U.S. seems to be the stereotype for Jews!), wastefulness does grate on me.

Here in the U.S., I feel it even more keenly than elsewhere.

I understand that in many cases, what I see as wastefulness is "just" the consequence of advancement of society. Or aversion to risk (self-preservation?). Lots of other reasons.

But, most probably, it's ultimately driven by the bottom line.

Part One: FOOD

... definitely for this example, anyway!

It came as a shock to me back in the mid-90's when a friend of mine, working at the university residence hall cafeteria, shared that there was always A LOT of food left over - unserved! I'm not talking what was out at the buffet line! - and that all this food got thrown away after every meal.


Because even though the food could go to good use at any homeless shelter, the liability in case someone got sick off of the food was just way too high, so into the rubbish bins went all that food. What a waste!

Yes, I understand the risk aversion, especially in such a society where everyone sues everyone else at the drop of a hat it seems, but still... what a crying waste, eh?

... it got me wondering, back in Malaysia, how things would be in a similar situation: firstly, I wonder if the law explicitly addresses "expiration of food", or liability of "food donors" ... then again, even if such laws exist, we all know how well (more important) existing laws are upheld / implemented, riiiiight?

... I don't know about local school / university cafeterias, but isn't it whispered that many places just "recycle" their curries and other food? That's how they consistently have great flavours, right?? Ugh :p

... ... aaanyways, I digress ... this was supposed to be an intro to some recent incidents of wastefulness I've observed / taken part in ... but it's taking too long so I'm breaking it into three instead... stay tuned ... next topic is DUST followed by DVDs.


  1. There's one American here who is also appalled by waste! Working on instilling a 'waste not want not' understanding in my kids, too!

  2. If not mistaken, while I stayed in the hostel, the kitchen staff usually take home the extra food from the cafeteria. So I think that did not go to waste, but can't say much for the students who take loads of food because "they are already paid for" and then dump them into the waste bin. Grrr...


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