Trash in Throw-Away Society

Yesterday, I was making my way to class and got interrupted by these folks handing out fliers. The fliers were about saving animals by becoming vegetarian. However, this got me thinking. First off, these fliers are forced unto people. This means, in reality, that they go in the trash. So, saving the animals may help with problems of overgrazing, yet it introduces more trash. This was further interesting to me because I came across an article yesterday about how the United States alone has more than doubled the expected amount of trash which was estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency. This, in turn causes the expected amount of greenhouse gases to increase, which then affects the rate at which global warming is expected that have its largest impact. Further, this is concerning because, undoubtedly, the United States is not alone in this miscalculation. Especially with the shift of globalization, new and rising world powers like India and China are beginning to run into the same problems with waste disposal as the United States is. Yet, their problems are even worse. Their government typically does not bother with the ideas of proper waste disposal or sustainability. Especially in developing nations, this is a problem because the nation’s people depend on their environment. Yet, to the government money spent of saving the world is taking away from their economy flourishing. This is not seen in the United States because it is largely a service based economy. Secondly, there is a vastly larger population in these regions which are typically confined into small, high density cities.  With all this estimation and changing world powers due to globalization, it will be interesting to see just how rapidly the world’s climate begins to change and how the world powers are going to fix it- if it is fixable at that point. What I find most baffling of all is that the United States has been a world superpower for quite sometime now. We have a stable government and, generally speaking, a stable economy. So why hasn’t the government found out a better method to control waste and promote sustainability? Further, why hasn’t the United States begun intervention in these rising nations to teach them of our own failures? The answer to these questions have many parts and also feature many other new arguments in politics and sociology. This biggest one I would like to focus on is the fact that the United States has cultivated a throw-away society. A society which does not find fault in getting rid of the old to trade up for the new, even if nothing is wrong with the old product. In a way, this is what makes our economy successful- constantly new products being bought. Yet, in the scheme of long-term effects, is it worth it to have that new IPhone 6 if your Razor still works just to be “cool”?

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One comment

  1. andrewwingfield · October 6, 2015

    Well, gosh, there’s a lot to respond to in this post. Your main point, about the US being a throw-away society, and how this is tied to our consumer economy, is spot on. Our economy is predicated on people constantly buying new stuff, whether they need it or not. There is a great video called The Story of Stuff that really captures this dynamic and explains how it came about. Just google it and take 20 minutes to watch it. Well worth your time.

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