A rare flip through the television channels took me to a story on BBC America about a woman in Kenya who was using recycled materials to make a very strong and sturdy brick.
The story started out by calling attention to all of the plastic in the ocean (apparently an area the size of Texas). It went on to show some massive landfill areas in Kenya which were teeming with buzzards.
Meanwhile, I was talking to a friend who’s department at work is moving to a new building they had built on their campus. She was telling me about the garbage bags full of awards and recognitions she and her department had received over the years.
Then it hit me!
Americans buy an inordinate amount of useless plastic junk. Little Dollar Store and Happy Meal plastic toys that get played with exactly once before one parent works to convince the other three months later to throw it out. All of the Funko and other pop culture-based trinkets we buy, display, and later throw out.
But awards have to be the most useless of all.
First of all, too many people get them for just being present. Awards have grown increasingly meaningless as we recognize people for simply doing their job, or worse, for being present while someone else did both jobs.
We also give awards for things that are completely subjective, like best actor, best screenplay, or best song. Do you know how many songs were released last year along? Who’s to say the best song winner is actually even close to the best song? In who’s opinion? Just because the masses made it a number one song?
Then there are the awards for events and achievements in which there was years of hard work culminating with a real clear winner. While those are probably the most deserving, do we really need something made of plastic or a cheap metal to recognize it? Our deep appreciation, a thoughtful letter, or a personal gift all seem more memorable and appropriate.
If the achievement was truly memorable and significant, the right people will always remember it, and the person who worked for it will never forget. Why mark the occasion with a meaningless piece of plastic.
To the people who are most deserving, the award will be an unnecessary token gesture that they’d probably rather not have. To those who didn’t really deserve it will be the ones most likely to display it proudly.
It’s not environmentally or mentally friendly to waste plastic on idols that serve as a replacement for real achievement. How about we save it and allow or own memories and the accolades and acknowledgement of others serve as our rich rewards. They’re 100% more meaningful, and they only take up space in our minds.