Waste is more often a market function than an absolute. Dirty motor oil is wasted unless you’re trying to heat a bus depot or melt metal, like I do. Taxpayers’ money is wasted on wars defending the interests of companies that pay no taxes, but which are bound not to waste a penny of shareholders’ investments. Up to half of the world’s food goes to waste, probably while the world’s other half is starving. Madness!
At the scrapyard today, I found probably the only Leica I will ever own. It’s tripod that can stand as high as 10’. Made in Switzerland with incredible precision, it’s in heavily-used but still very functional condition. I knew from the color and design that it’s a geosurvey tripod, and it has a shoulder strap so it’s easy to carry even if you are a sluggish government worker glutted on wasteful union wages.* Not that it’s very heavy—engineered in fiberglass with aluminum hardware, it’s lighter than my camera tripod despite being over twice its size.
I couldn’t figure out why it was in the dumpster, and the scaleman gave it to me because the materials have no resale value by weight. It made my day, but I spent the car ride home puzzling over why it was binned. When I was unloading it at home, I saw that it has a hairline crack spiraling around one of its supports.
It’s possible that such a crack would impact its precision, throwing it off by a nanounit of a degree so that a road surveyor would annotate a map directing an interstate to pass through a mall, costing taxpayers thousands of man hours to correct. Or maybe it was just cheaper to throw out, since it probably left the Swiss factory untouched by human hands but perfect. If anyone alive could fix it, they would cost more per year than the machine that replaced them fourscore quarters ago. In all events it’s cheaper to buy another one, but you’d think it could find an aftermarket among clowns photographing children at birthday parties.
*Not my actual opinion.