Expansion of Unnecessary Work

As I write, one of my neighbors appears to be getting his house pressure-washed. Possibly his entire house; possibly just the front.

The deafening noise is one of those sounds that, when it stops, I retroactively feel as if someone has been beating me over the head with a baseball bat or has tossed me into the spin cycle of a washing machine, and it’s only after it stops that I fully realize how truly loud the noise was.

Not that I don’t notice the noise in the moment; just that the relief when it finally stops is so enormous.

It went on for about a half-hour. Now the immediate area is quiet, though I can hear some kind of mechanized equipment in the distance.

Large mechanized equipment has become more and more of a part of everyday life, at least in places like the USA, where “convenience” and expediency are dominant drivers of everyday activity, and fossil fuels are cheap and abundant.

The original purpose of machines is to save labor. But sometimes that backfires, and people end up just using the abundant extra power to do more work, and increase the reach of human arms.

What did people used to do before pressure-washers existed? Let it slide, would be my guess. Maybe hand-scrub a few bad spots.

The neighbor’s house looks cleaner. But it didn’t really look bad to start with; it’s not something I would’ve noticed.

As I see it, pressure-washers and lawn-edgers and other machines that feed the “fussbudget mentality” have mainly just ended up ratcheting-up the cultural expectations for a brand of neatness and “cleanliness” that causes humans a lot of unnecessary labor, while arguably degrading the outdoor environment.

Is the noise and hassle worth the extra neatness? What do you think?

P.S. Although I generally find mechanized noise disruptive, I don’t mind it as much when the source is carpentry tools. At least then, something is getting fixed or created, as opposed to the great outdoors being obsessively “cleaned,” mowed, or pruned to within an inch of its life!

Eco tip for the day: Give yourself permission to refrain from doing some noisy, fossil-fuel-powered task that doesn’t really need to be done.