BY CAROL LI
As a part of Generation Z, I can easily say that my most prized possession is my phone. Whether I am watching videos on YouTube or mindlessly scrolling on social media, my phone is something I cannot live without.
Yet, in the midst of a frenzy over a new phone, people are willing to trash their own phones to buy the latest technology. Unfortunately, this is not the only object that many mindlessly trash. Countless everyday items including unfinished foods and quality clothes wind up in the trash can, contributing to our society’s reckless consumerist habit.
In fact, society today has evolved into a “throw-away society.” For example, companies are relentlessly marketing their products to the point that people will buy expensive, trend-setting electronics even when they already have perfectly functional ones. In some ways, evolution has not taken us far: we are still barbaric animals, now hunting for products to buy to satisfy our consumerist instinct. Reaping and pillaging, we forget the destructive effects of our actions on the environment and society.
Essentially, the desire to have only the best product urges people to throw away their old belongings to allow room for the newer items. Because society is deeply immersed in consumerist culture, what we own appears to be a reflection of our personality. Because of this societal pressure, many feel the need to possess the best belongings to avoid being perceived as less than others. This is where the idea of a throw-away society manifests: the excessive discarding of “useless” possessions enlarges the pile of waste sitting on Earth.
As much as we would like to believe, our trash does not miraculously disappear. Instead, it harms the environment and causes unnatural global alterations such as climate change and extinction.
One would believe that from these consequences the public would take necessary measures to prevent the problem from spiraling out of control. Nonetheless, people continue on a never ending quest to buy surplus products with the encouragement of many companies. This indicates that the issue seems to be repeatedly swept under the rug.
For instance, when staples such as phones are carelessly disposed of, they accumulate in landfills, joining the league of toxic waste with plastics and other non biodegradable products. According to theartof.com, e-waste represents two percent of America’s landfills, but it equates to nearly 70 percent of toxic waste in landfills. To make matters worse, EPA records only 12.5 percent of e-waste is recycled, leaving millions of dollars of electronic parts to waste. The surplus trash is unsurprisingly affecting our environment, which results in substantial problems that pose a threat to living organisms.
Not only does our throw-away society affect the environment, but it also contributes to a harsher life for the lower classes. For numerous corporate businesses, the backbone of their companies are the individuals working in the assembly line, many of whom reside in undeveloped countries where people are not fortunate enough to have access to basic necessities. According to brandongaille.com, only four out of the top ten nations that have a high number of sweatshops pay their workers more than one dollar an hour. Because their jobs do not provide them with adequate income, many people in undeveloped countries live in deep poverty.
Moreover, these workers remain in poverty as the burden falls on them to keep up with increasing demand. Needless to say, it is immoral to throw a heavy workload on the shoulders of people living in developing countries simply to satisfy the miniscule wants of consumers. Nevertheless, this is the selfish choice people unconsciously make when buying products they do not need.
Although people may be aware of their environmentally unfriendly consumerism corporate and media influences make changes extremely difficult. However, if everyone is a little more aware of the products they purchase and keep in mind the consequences of splurging, we can truly make the world a better place.