While our grandparents worked long hours at the fields or the factory or the office, we now have "eight hour days" and pretend we're not working the other eight hours we're awake and answering emails from home, phone calls and texts during the bus ride home or during dinner, and all those hours we're on standby just waiting for the phone or the pager to go off.
I've seen a lot of multi-purpose furniture, but paradoxically also a lot of single tasking devices. To be honest, some things need to be single purpose. I'd hate to see a combined hammer/pistol/pruning saw, for example. Yet that's one of the things driving the economy. A combination of USB memory and a humping doggie figurine, for example, is one of those combinations that probably shouldn't have been thought of. And a Black & Decker electric jar opener takes the single minded device to a whole new level of resource wasting.
That's my jar opener. It's a few pieces of metal, I bought it at a thrift shop years ago when it was already years old. I feel guilty for having it when I could just use a damp teatowel and a bit more muscle to achieve the same result without having needed to use a few ounces of steel.
Which is all beside the point, really. The point is that economic forces drive this proliferation of gizmos and geegaws, the honest desire to make money off YOU for some minimal amount of effort and input. And in point of fact it's not just you that's being exploited, it's also the underpaid workers that are making that crap, the whole world being ripped off to the tune of however many resources it took to design and build the thing and then manufacture it and ship it around the world so that somewhere, someone can sit back and screw YOU for a skim of 50c per unit.
And the one thing that drives this huge intermeshing web of exploitation and ruining of the environment and destroying lives - is YOU. You buy the gizmo, you encourage the manufacturer to plunge to even greater depths of stupidity and inapprorpiateness. Cos if you gave them one lot of 50c, then you're an easy mark and good for $1 next time...