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OPINION

Progress arrives at the doorstep

The Examiner

The next step in the fitful, dubious project called modern humanity is at hand.

I can see it from my front window.

Jeff Fox

In this year of zig, zag, then zig some more, our household has doubled down on the click-pay-wow-here-it-is lifestyle. Contactless. No need to leave the house. Free of pesky human interaction. The sleek Amazon trucks make their endless rounds, and products arrive packaged in little cardboard-and-bubble-wrap environmental disasters.

Then, once a week, another truck comes, slower and less sleek. It’s the truck for which I pay a pittance to have the recycling hauled away. 

One truck slams to a halt, and someone flings a box – often the correct one – in the vicinity of your doorbell cam. Then, as if some unseen force demands balance, We the People send a wee percentage of that cardboard and whatnot back to, well, somewhere.

There must be a better way. An Amazon truck has a lot of space by the end of its run. Why not grab the empties and add one more stop at the recycling place on the way back to the Amazon Bat Cave? Amazon started in books and now is in sales and delivery of any product you might imagine. Plus music, TV and goodness knows what’s next. Why not one more line of business?

There was a time when you bought six or eight glass bottles of Coke in a cardboard carrier, and you paid a deposit on the bottles. We think of those as simpler, happier days. The Coke thing in fact wasn’t simple, but it worked just fine.

So of course it had to be replaced by a set-up that saved someone a nickel and cost all the rest of us in the form of more waste, more trash, more litter.

Besides, Coke is colder out of a glass bottle. Everyone knows that. 

Why not put a nickel deposit on those Amazon boxes as an incentive for their return and reuse? What could go wrong? 

There is an alternative vision, yet another step in the human project – a step with fewer humans. We won’t need trucks or drivers. Amazon drones will fill the skies. The drone will drop off your new tennis shoes, nail polish and bananas, pick up an empty box and buzz back into the sky, probably meeting another drone and refilling that box in mid-air. This might be as close as we ever get to a perpetual-motion machine.

Keep clicking, good citizens. Keep paying. Someone has to feed the beast, and drones ain’t cheap.

Jeff Fox is The Examiner’s editor. Reach him at jeff.fox@examiner.net or @FoxEJC.