Convenience and waste

Our convenience in this day and age is built upon waste. Lots of it. When we order delivery, we compel an additional person in the society to actually go to the shop to fetch the food for us, bringing it to us before going about his or her way. This creates 3-4 journeys instead of two. It generates more packaging waste and potentially more transactions: between you and the platform, the platform and the deliveryman as well as the platform and the food outlet.

Yet our economy is built upon such foundations, that we generate more activities, monetise and measure it, and consider that an uptick in our growth and economy. Sure, maybe the ability to pay for the service and choice to take it up means you are able to spend that time more productively, at something where you can make a higher level of contribution to society. Indeed, if that is the case and the basic parameter of decision-making, then the economy and society becomes more efficient, not more wasteful. But that is unlikely to be a real decision parameter.

Convenience is something more about psychology, behaviours and motivation than with the cold-calculus of cost and benefits. Besides, the weighting of cost-benefit across time is not as simple as imputing an interest rate or discount factor the way we analyse it in economics. The discount factor adjusts due to the manner our psyche responds to context and situations.

The question then is whether we want to make that short term gain in our economy, giving in to our impulses or to generate the long term sustainability in our world and fulfill a greater meaning for our lives on earth?