Big Bang Theory Recycling

I recently wrote a piece about The Big Bang Theory TV series and our ability to focus our attention – it was kind of making a mockery of all of our situations while at the same time keeping us in it. Of course I am not immune from this issue but there is something particular that has been distracting me while I work my way through the eighth series, and that is recycling, or rather, the throw away packaging that litters each episode of the comedy.

It’s pretty much guaranteed that in each episode there will be a scene in the cafeteria, and a take-away-eating scene at Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment.

Since I am very conscious about what things I throw away or recycle, and therefore what I buy that might lead me to throw away or recycle, I can’t help but now watch an episode of The Big Bang Theory and notice all the single-use packaging that will inevitably be thrown away (or perhaps and hopefully recycled) after each episode or scene.

In the cafeteria scenes there are some proper mugs dotted around but typically the group itself will be consuming beverages from disposable cups and/or eating food with plastic forks.

The first irony is that Sheldon is supposed to be the most logical of logical creatures and yet he fails to notice his illogical use of throw away cutlery; destroying the planet with every meal instead of having his own preferred set of proper eating implements that he can wash and sterilise to his own exacting standards. The second irony is that while the group of lads are, in one particular episode, consuming takeaway beverages from disposable cups with those awful plastic lids, Howard is wearing a green t-shirt with a recycling symbol on:

It’s not only that we see the group consuming takeaways from “time-to-time” but we see it in every episode, and sometimes more than once. Personally I think it’s fine to have take away every once in a while, but to take it home to be eaten there with plastic cutlery, this is mindless. This whole behaviour brainwashes an audience into thinking this is all okay when there is evidence to show that not only is the packing (and cutlery) used for such meals damaging to the environment, but that such a lifestyle is fuelling the obesity epidemic – the cast might not appear to be all heavily overweight but the majority of the audience will be.

Sometimes we see the couples, Leonard and Penny, Howard and Bernadette, eating together and here I have observed that what they typically eat is pasta and salad on a proper plate and with proper cutlery as if we are observing them being proper grown-up couples, yet when do we ever see them cook or prepare such a meal? I wonder if these meals of pasta and salad are there so as to not feature meat which may be offensive to non-meat eating viewers. Well I’ll tell you this, their diets here are deficient of fat and protein and when they don’t eat “proper meals” from proper plates and with proper cutlery, this is offensive to me! (I say this with an air of sarcasm).

My concern though is of how such a TV show (and others) paint a picture in our mind about how the world is, they show and dictate how we should live and how we should treat our planet. Having no regard for the wastefulness of the situation we find ourselves in is utterly damaging and TV shows such as this make us blind to how wrong things are. The Big Bang Theory not only portrays its characters is this mindless way, but it shows up all the people who are involved in making the TV series; from the directors and set designers to the cast and other crew, right through to the script writers who could have by now written an episode highlighting this issue of wastefulness. It is perhaps only the person in charge of Leonard’s wardrobe on this occasion that I can raise my hat to.



    • One could hope, but out of the 8 series I have seen I don’t recall one episode to be about these things; there are still a few more series for me to watch though, bringing the total to 12 (with up to 24 episodes in each) when they bring it to an end.

  1. Culture influencing media or vice versa? I’d have to wager that it’s the former. Rarely does media direct the world — it is a mirror, reflecting our behaviors, memes and failures.

    That said, I believe humanity has recycling all wrong. We should throw everything away — into a hyper capable resource processor. Paper, plastic, glass, metals, organics would all be ground to bits, and separated with physical process, chemical properties and heat. One of my favorite technologies – thermal-depolymerization. (Fascinating.)

    • I think the media is supposed to explain what is happening in the world (reflect, if you will), but I think the result is that it’s far more dictatory and that the masses can’t help but go along with it.

      Star Trek’s transporter technology essentially breaks down matter and reassembles it at the other end; this is the kind of technology we need to just break things down and just leave them separated into their various types, perhaps reassemble the thing into something useful again.

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