Golf club-shaped urinal, anyone? Motorised ice-cream cone holder?
In the depths of the global crunch, why would anyone want to waste precious money on pointless junk that ends up in the trashcan after a couple of uses?
But sales of consumer nonsense are still rocketing – stuff such as wand-shaped TV remote controls, desk-top hoovers, and electric toothbrushes costing hundreds of pounds. Even a hollow plastic golf-club you can wee into while playing a round (don’t show it to Tiger Woods, please). We’re still madly addicted to consumption.
Despite the financial collapse, carbon emissions from fossil fuels rose by 2 per cent last year to an all-time, planet-melting high. Scientists in Nature Geoscience say that much of this was caused by Chinese exports of consumer gadgets to Europe.
So, welcome to the Landfill Prize 2010 (at www.enoughness.co.uk), a divertingly subversive initiative to help to break this costly cycle.
We want people’s nominations for the most needless, wasteful uses of our planet’s precious resources that they’ve seen, bought or been given in the past year. Whether it’s an electronic skipping rope, an automatic cucumber peeler or a laser-guided pair of scissors, we want to spotlight such pointless ingenuity as it makes its fast-track journey to the junkheap. This year we’re specially interested in ‘faux’ green goods.
The prize, to be presented to the ‘winning’ manufacturer in February, celebrates the stupendous creativity of the people tasked with inventing constantly inflated new wants for us to want. It’s a monument to perverse imagination and needless consumption. Most importantly, it’s a plea for us to say, “Thanks. We’ve got enough stuff,” and to break free from this crazy cycle.
The Landfill Prize site features a list of scientifically backed ways in which you can help to proof your brain against consumerist chicanery, written by John Naish, a national newspaper health correspondent, the author of Enough, Breaking free from the world of more… and the man behind the prize.
Nominations will be judged by a panel consisting of-
John Naish (author of Enough: Breaking free from the world of more)
Anna Shepherd (author of How green are my wellies?)
Carl Honore (author of In Praise of Slow)
Ben Davis (co-founder of BuyLessCrap)
The winner will be announced on the 16th February 2010. We’ll invite the makers along to a little prizegiving… and if they don’t want to come, I guess we will have to pop around to their place to make the award.
For more information go to www.enoughness.co.uk
Last year’s top ten
1 Motorised Ice-Cream Cone
For those too lazy to twist their wrists when eating an ice-cream, there is this stupid gadget. You pop your cone in it, stick your tongue out and it does all the hard work for you, ensuring no drips get onto your hand. You can even stick it in the dishwasher – no need to waste energy on washing up.
2 Plane Sheet
As if flying wasn’t bad enough for the environment, now irresponsible travellers can step up their wasteful footprint with this bizarre plane seat cover. Designed to “transform a tired, overused airline seat into a cozy, happy place… while keeping at bay germs, crumbs and spills from previous passengers”, this lurid example of bad taste will put any fears of catching the plague whilst flying at bay. You can even have it monogrammed. Classy.
3 Motorised fork
We would like to nominate a motorised spinning fork that twirls your noodles for you. It is much slower than using your own hand and we think it is useless and wasteful.
4 Folding Fishing Camping Chair
Just what every fisherman needs. No peace and quiet, but a folding fishing camping chair with four speakers.
5 USB Chameleon
My nomination is the USB powered Chameleon. I mean…. for goodness sakes, the damned thing doesn’t even change colour!
6 Nintendo Wii Fit
I don’t need to pay an extortionate amount of money to get fit – I can do it for free by stepping outside the front door and going for a walk. I can talk to my children or/and wife, listen to music or the wildlife or just think about how good life really is without all the gadgets and gizmos that people seem to attach so much importance to.
7 The Guitar Hero franchise
Rather than learn to play an actual instrument, you can now make a virtual cacophony on virtual instruments by pressing primary coloured buttons on a plastic guitar. (Was learning three chords really too difficult?) For a couple of hundred pounds you can complete the set, and get some friends over to play the plastic drums and plastic bass. There’s probably two or three whole minutes of fun to be had before the buyer’s remorse kicks in.
8 Digital Electronic Jumping Rope
Bored with your ropey old skipping rope? How about an electronic version with batteries in the handles, that counts the number of times you jump up and down and “calculates” how many calories you’ve burned? Of course, you could help to save the world by counting the number of times you skip before collapsing in a sweaty heap. As for the onboard calorie calculator, well, hmm: you can’t accurately gauge the number of calories you’ve burnt without making a highly complex guesstimate based on your weight, age, metabolic rate, skipping speed, etc, etc. But then that’s not the point of convoluted exercise gear. It’s supposed to motivate you to exercise for several days… until the “fun” wears off and it gets stuck in the back of a cupboard.
9 The Toyota Prius
I want to nominate the Toyota Pious (oops Prius), the so-called eco-friendly car, which actually comes with two engines. Is it a car or an overblown status symbol to make one look greener than you? How much energy does it actually take to make, use, and dispose of?
10 The Sat Nag
At £6.99 mocks the Sat Nav device, blasting its owner with 24 annoying comments. Typical phrases include “You have reached your destination – you may now throttle your passenger.” It’s funny as your mother-in-law sat poking an umbrella in your ear hole.