Disposable Society

by Lucilius Stoicorum August 17, 2020

Disposable Society

"A disposable society is only fit for disposable people." - Bryant McGill

We live in a society where everything gets thrown away. Our economy has become so dependant on consumerism that we are pushed to just keep buying and throwing away stuff just so we can keep the economic growth. We are led to believe that cheap is cheerful because we can buy more the next day as it is so cheap.

Life magazine has an article from 1955 titled “Throwaway Living”, praising single used products. The argument is for housewives to start using disposable utensils and plates instead of having to wash. Feels like everything that was happening between the ‘50s and ‘70s is now catching up on us and realising how bad it was. I can mention a few like, racism, sexism, smoking, fast food, consumerism etc. Even fossil fuel usage really starts to rise during these times. In 2020 we fight against all of it. It is a tough fight as it involves fighting deep taught culture and old industries with deep pockets of money.

Life magazine 1955 Throwaway Living

However, I believe we can’t, and we shouldn’t judge anyone for their actions in the times there were living in. What we should do instead is change what happens tomorrow. After all, with our actions in the present, we can only change the future, not the past.

We know now that we are taught to be a disposable society. Don't think, buy, use, throwaway, repeat as often as you can. Even if you can't here's a credit card so you can. The cost of being a disposable a.k.a. throwaway society however has it's price. We pay it with our health, with climate change and CO2 emissions, with toxic rubbish overflowing landfills and oceans. More often than not the reason is that it makes someone more money.

Creating products that aren't meant to last is a very viable business strategy as this means that consumers will need to buy replacement products. We as consumers can all blame that it is the business’ fault only and they make us do that. Unfortunately, that is not always true. The power really is in our hands.

The fashion industry is the best example. There are figures mentioned in a panel from the World Economic Forum in Davos this year (2020), where they claim that a sweater is only worn seven times before it gets thrown away. Seven times!? Are we all in some believe that every day of our lives we go to the red carpet at the Oscars that we are so ashamed to be seen with the same clothes more than a few times?

“An average citizen in an OECD country generates 2 kilos of garbage per day.” (World Economic Forum). Unless Elon Musk starts a space waste company at a nearby planet in the next couple of years, we simply cannot afford to produce so much waste. And I haven’t even mentioned the number of resources we waste because of over-consumerism, but that is a whole different story.


How can we as consumers help?

  1. Reduce

    Start with things like wearing that sweater until it gets holes in it and maybe even patch it up and wear it some more instead of buying a new one with every paycheck. Why buy jeans with holes when you can buy a pair without and just wait until they show up?
  2. Reuse

    When buying a product think if it can be reused. Instead of buying cling film buy a beeswax food wrap. Or have both and use the cling film less until you build the habit of only using beeswax. It is a learning process. No one goes to the gym for the first time and starts lifting as much as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson does.
    Get yourself a reusable coffee cup, water bottle and travel cutlery set so you won’t have to use single-use plastics when you are out or at work.
    If you own a business don’t just buy the cheapest to serve your customers or staff. As we know cheap breaks, pollutes, it is not sustainable and often ends up costing more. For example, don’t buy easy breakable plastic hand sanitising dispensers. Instead, get a long-serving sustainable dispenser.
  3. Recycle

    This is a bit tricky because a lot of people do not know how and what to recycle. It really depends on where you live and what your waste management company can recycle. For example, not all plastic is recyclable. A single-use plastic cups are sometimes made of 3 or more types of plastic which makes it impossible to break down and recycle. More on the subject you can read here.

The ’50s did not care how 2020 would like. Let's not make the same mistake and be better than that and care how 2090 will look like.

Lucilius Stoicorum
Lucilius Stoicorum


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