activism consumerism events waste

The landfill prize 2010 – nominate your useless consumer items

Last year it was the motorised ice-cream cone. The year before, the ‘sonic’ electric toothbrush. It is the award for Britain’s cleverest rubbish, and it’s back to take your nominations for 2010.

You might have thought that a global credit crunch would have dimmed our obsession with plastic trinkets, but apparently not. Walking into a department store this Christmas, I found an entire shelf of ‘man presents’ themed around Top Gear’s cash cow, the mysterious racing driver The Stig. We’re not just talking DVDs and books, things you might expect from a TV programme about cars, but alarm clocks, wash bags, a life-size cardboard cut-out, a Stig duvet set. (I suppose I should be thankful it isn’t a Jeremy Clarkson duvet set.) There’s even a Stig electric toothbrush.

It’s the Stig shaped bottle of bubble bath that gets me. It’s a million miles from anything to do with a racing driver, just the lazy ticking of boxes by some merchandising company, for lazy present buyers whose imagination doesn’t stretch beyond the ‘gift ideas for men’ shelf of the department store. If you received a Stig item for Christmas, you’ve probably already thrown it away.

And of course all these things came from China, assembled in all likelihood in sweatshop conditions, before being shipped across the world. The least we could do is put all the Stig merchandise in the bin in China and save ourselves the shipping emissions.

The Landfill Prize is a moment of creative resistance, a symbolic strike back against the merchandisers, inventors and marketing executives that keep us coming back for more despite the environment-trashing, soul-destroying pointlessness of novelty consumption.

Here’s prize originator John Naish:

“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.”

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    1. Thanks, that’s an interesting article. And yes, 3D television… hmm. I saw some of these in a little exhibition stand in the station a while back, and they looked rubbish.

  1. I think my mother in law would be a good supplier of dross to throw away, seems to have a directory of the most useless gadgety items (ashtray on a keyring the latest) or noisy toys for the kids

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