An unusually unsustainable device that I own (see below).

I’m hoping to expand on the Ponzi scheme discussion in my next Salon piece. So I’m gathering examples of unsustainability at every scale.

In asking what is the most unsustainable piece of crap junk you own, I wasn’t really thinking private jet or Hummer, not that I think any of you own that uber-unsustainable stuff.

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Nor was I thinking of an electric dryer, since most people (in this country) own that laborsaving device. But that does get us closer to the key question, though: How many of the 10 billion people on the planet post-2050 will be using large amounts of electricity for things that are easily done without electricity — once we have moved beyond desperation and are actually in the midst of the climate catastrophe.

By junk I was thinking of something closer to a relatively superfluous device that symbolizes the Ponzi scheme we have created. What comes to mind at the moderate cost level is a leaf blower and even a Segway (sorry, Dean Kamen — your genius is really needed urgently for sustainability, not for electrifying human walking, even if many people find some value in that). I don’t own either of those, but I do own a treadmill and a 50-inch flat panel TV (but hey it is Energy Star), which are close to what I have in mind in this post.

And I’d also be interested in hearing about any of the truly pointless low-cost stuff you have, like an electric pencil sharpener. Indeed, what really got me thinking about all this yesterday was my use of a gadget (pictured above) whose pointlessness and unsustainability simply staggers the imagination:

The Racket Zapper, available at for a mere $9.99.

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From the Manufacturer
The Electric Racket Zapper has no smell, no poison or harmful materials.The net will become hot when activated, so please keep away from skin and children. This is not a toy. Just zap the flying bugs with a simple wave of the Electric Bug Zapper.

Product Description
The Racket Zapper electronic fly swatter eliminates chasing down flying insects or splattering bug parts on your wall. Instead, spot the flying insect and zap it. The bug should die instantly and drop to the floor.

Yes, instead of using an existing newspaper or magazine, which is easily recycled, I own a massive hunk of plastic with two large metal meshes and a battery.

It’s big benefit to humanity is that now I don’t have to actually smash the fly against the wall, which is always tricky to do, as everyone knows. I just have to get the fly against the metal meshes, push the button, and zap it. Of course in the real world that isn’t so easy to and the zap doesn’t always kill the fly but more seems to knock it out so you can then crush it.

But I would like to apologize now to future generations for ever having bought it.

Anyway, you get the idea: What is the most unsustainable piece of junk you own?

Update: Yes, I do a lot of sustainable stuff, too (see Is Climate Progress “low carbon” and does it matter?).

This post was created for, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.