What? You don’t think that it’s okay to consume as much as we want and not worry or care about the waste our intense consumption creates for ourselves and the world?
Probably most of us would agree that consumption and waste are not okay, perhaps are in fact the result of habits that are pretty bad! But if you use the statistics for the United States alone, the way most of us are living does give the impression that we think it’s more than okay to live a lifestyle that is overflowing (literally) with consumption and waste.
Why does it appear that consumption and waste are okay for most of us? Here are some reasons that we thought of:
- Because for some reason it is not illegal.
It’s just part of how we live.
- On trash day it all just magically disappears.
It’s so inconvenient or difficult to avoid things like packaging – we wouldn’t be able to buy hardly anything and, of course, we need to buy things.
- Because now we recycle. (Recycling gives us the feeling that we are offsetting all of our consumption and waste, even though source reduction and not creating the waste to begin with is really the ideal option.)
Because there is a big disconnect in our lives and our schools between our choices and the impact on the world. We don’t learn that we must take care of our earth if we hope to stay alive.
We often don’t see the waste caused by our consumption. (Since we have not littered every square inch of the earth and oceans yet and don’t really need to question our ways until it’s too late. )
- If we run out of room here we have great hopes of shipping our trash into space or to other planets!
We have been seduced into not really questioning our lifestyle.
- We think the issue is too overwhelming and we can’t see how our little changes will really help anyway.
Why Consumption and Waste are NOT okay
- It’s not Natural!
- There is just too much Trash!
Each person, on average produces 4.5 pounds of trash a day, or 1,642.5 pounds a year or 131,400 pounds in an 80 year lifetime. Holy trash!
There are serious environmental problems caused by our bad habits of consumption and waste!
Municipal waste contributes to several environmental problems including habitat destruction, surface and groundwater pollution, and other forms of air, soil, and water contamination.
Depending on the disposal method, there may be other negative consequences, such as the creation of toxic substances through incineration. Landfills also emit methane (which contributes to global warming) and other gases.
Biodegradables don’t biodegrade in landfills!
Even normally biodegradable items, when put in a landfill do not decompose due to lack of light and oxygen. According to the EPA, researchers have unearthed cabbages, carrots, and readable newspapers that have been in landfills for 30 years or more! Biodegradables are the majority of trash. Despite the fact biodegradables do not biodegrade in landfills, organic materials continue to be the largest component of municipal waste.
Everyone does not recycle…in fact the majority of people don't recycle. Only a small number of people are lucky enough to live in one of the places in the United States, Canada, or Europe where recycling is offered as part of the services of the area. Most locations simply do not offer recycling, or if it is available, it is up to the individual to take their recycled materials to a recycling center.
The fact is many, many, MANY things that could potentially be recycled get thrown away on a daily basis!
One of the outcomes of our extreme consumption and waste is trash in our Backyard (with a big B.)
We are simply running out of space that can be used to store all our trash. I don’t want it in my back yard and no one else seems to either. Despite that, many people in many countries do live with trash all around them all the time.
WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?