Waste Not, Want Not: Doing Away With A Disposable Lifestyle
There’s an oft-repeated statistic that mentions that if the entire world were to consume the same way Americans do, we would run out of resources in 5 to 10 years. The United States has about 5% of the world’s population, but consumes more than 30% of the earth’s resources. If you live in America, you’re probably thinking, “Hey, that’s not true!” But if you to live in the US or you’ve ever observed the average American household, just think of the daily routine of the average American: First, after waking up in the morning, brushing your teeth and leaving the tap running wastes a lot of water. While you’re having breakfast, if you spill some milk on the counter, you’ll probably reach for a sheet or two of toilet paper. When it’s lunchtime and you’re in a hurry, you’ll head for the nearest take-out place where the food will be surrounded in one or two layers of wrappers, placed in a plastic bag and probably has too many sets of plastic utensils.
Most self-centered people will probably think, “Hey what’s wrong with that? I paid for the privilege of throwing stuff away.” Each day, we encounter these situations; now multiply that with the 350 million people and what have you got? A problem. And the problem comes from both ends of this disposable lifestyle.
First, the more we consume, the more resources we have to use. If we leave the tap running for whatever reason, that’s less water for other people to use. When we use paper towels to pick up spills, that’s less trees on earth. Then, let’s consider the means of transporting these items to their final destinations. This demand for more and more items seems to drive this whole system of making and using up.
And after we’re done with our stuff, what do we do? Why, we toss it in the bin and never have to worry about it, right? Wrong! Getting off your lazy behind and walking to the rubbish bin is only the beginning – this decision to throw something away is only the action that sets of a chain of other events. This waste has to get from our homes to the landfill, meaning the goods now have to be transported out of your house. Then we have to dig up a big hole in the ground and put everything in! Or we can burn it up and have it reduced to ashes. But now we run into even worse problems – we’ll eventually run out of places to bury our trash and burning it can be poisonous to our air and atmosphere.
Talk about a triple threat of doom and gloom. Whether we’re buying, using or disposing, we can’t escape from it. So should we just run into the woods and start living off the land? Well, that may be too extreme (though not farfetched,), but there are many ways we can do without a disposable lifestyle. You can make small changes in your life, such as using rags to mop up your mess or taking shorter showers. Don’t think that these things don’t matter – again, think of 350 million people shutting of their taps at the same time. That can add up to, literally, an sea of change.
By Maria Belgado