Professor's House

Living in a Disposable World

Recently with the release of the Iphone, it became evident just how deeply people believe that we are living in a disposable world. Thousands upon thousands of people were lined up at dawn in front of a myriad of stores across the United States, to be first in line for a new phone. The reality of the situation was that each and every person in those lines already had a phone and simply wanted to upgrade to what they believed would be the latest and greatest new gadget. The ironic part is that in just four months, business reports indicate that an even newer and greater version of this same phone will be available. Will these same people toss away this new coveted version for the next one? Chances are they will, our only hope is they know something about e-waste recycling ! To some degree, this is metaphoric for the sad financial and emotional state that we as a generation, are living in.

Perhaps even more ironic is that the last decade has exploded with an emergence of going green centered research and information. You cannot walk into a grocery store without finding organic, eco-friendly products nor can you turn on the television without being inundated with advertising centered around the planet. And yet the old, economy corroding products are still available – right next to the others; and often for cheaper making people quickly ‘forget’ the issues in order to save their wallet. So are people just ignoring the issue? Is buying a few environmentally friendly products just a way to relieve our global consciousness so we can continue on our course of action? And are we really destroying our planet?

One of the problems is that most people, just like yourself – don’t truly understand the conflicting information available about the demise of our planet. There has been much hype about things like global warming, the demolition of the rain forests – yet since few people see the consequences NOW, they either don’t believe or don’t care, about what the real risks are. And worse – so many corporations large and small have jumped on the going green bandwagon under false pretenses, that is hard for the average Joe to truly know what the real deal is? Then you have the plentiful going green and environmentally friendly political schemes and extremists who seem to take things into their own hand – making normal people very uncomfortable in their choices. In fact, environmentalists and planet conservationists are often seen as nothing more than ‘tree-hugging throwback hippies,’ creating yet another minority group in our society.

There is no doubt that environmental issues exist. There is also no doubt that as a world community, we are less concerned with or tuned in to the planet that hosts us. At least for the most part. We have allowed ourselves to live in a disposable world that is unlike any of any other generation before? Why?

Most of us grew up with parents and grandparents, who living through financial hardships or even a depression, became thrifty in their lives. They bought a washing machine and fully expected to keep it. When they purchased a car, they drove it until the engine fell out. This, opposed to the fact that in 2010 – only around 17% of Americans actually OWNED their car – and around 72% were leasing. This pretty much says that when they get tired of their car, and when something better comes around – they can jump on the new bandwagon.

Additionally, ‘back then’ folks would use their items until they broke and when they did, the relied on people to come and fix them. A broken washing machine didn’t mean they would have to buy a new one like it does today. It seems plausible, that people then just thought differently as a whole. They didn’t believe that the world and that everything in their lie was upgradeable or that they could simply throw something away when it became less than perfect. They patched jackets and jeans, wore shoes until the soles were worn and even then…tried to find a shoemaker to repair them if they still fit. Take this little challenge! See if you can find a shoemaker within 50 miles of your home? Chances are you cannot, but you will find 50-60 shoe stores and chains ready and waiting to sell you another pair.

The same is true with just about every other product we own from our homes to something as trivial as computers and cell phones. And yet, marketing trends to always up the ante would not be so evident in our world, if companies didn’t realize they were catering to a society that was so willing to live in this disposable lifestyle. Honestly, how many upgrades can a computer have? And even if you upgrade, aren’t you willing to admit that your technological freedom is only remotely advanced? Does a digital dishwasher really wash the dishes better? Is having a Tom Tom installed in your console reason enough to buy a new car, especially when you have a map?

And what about all those cell phones that were traded in last week and every day of the regular week even when a new phone isn’t being released. As soon as someone can afford a new phone; or is eligible for a free upgrade – what happens to the old cellphones. Or anything we throw away for that matter? We all know that battery disposal and recycling is expensive and toxic to the ground. And yet, that is just the tip of the iceberg.

A survey in 2008, showed that the average household’s trashcan is 75% bigger than it was just 20 years ago. And yet, families are still filling them up on a weekly basis. Where is all this excess trash coming from? And perhaps more importantly, where is it all going to go?

Isn’t is plausible to think that since we are getting rid of things so quickly, and have adopted the mentality of out of sight out of mind; that a day WILL come when each and every one of us is living in a treeless world with our homes perched on the edges of a landfill?

This ‘living in a disposable world’ lifestyle has to have come from somewhere. And while there is no particular person to blame – or one incident that seems to be the root cause; it does come down to the human mentality. Are we so clueless about consequences that we can individually continue living like this? Are we so spoiled that we are unable to fathom, even from an uneducated perspective, the result of our living. Is there any benefit from getting new things at the sake of trashing others that have yet to be paid off on our credit cards?

Lots of people say that children today are spoiled, that they have no real idea what life is about and so incredibly beyond belief lucky to live the lives they do. Yet, who pray tell is teaching them this? Is it the same parents who have adopted the belief that we live in a disposable world? Could it be this same mentality that is to blame for our increasingly high rates of drug addictions, divorce, suicide, unemployment, stress related illnesses, and depression?

Certainly, not just one of us has the answers. And certainly, there isn’t just one cure. However, it is inside each of us to find things in our world to hang on to – that isn’t simply replaceable by something later and greater. And the most important thing is happiness. All this searching, throwing away, starting over, and replacing things in our lives continue to leave the human race obviously empty. Just maybe what we have given up to have it all – what we have replaced is our common sense and innately satisfied and joyous souls. Sadly, while there will be innumerous landfills to show for our possessions and ways of thinking today – there will not be many tales of tenacity and happiness from living in a world where everything is made of plastic – the temporary indicator of our own existence.

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