Thursday, June 28, 2012

Producing more garbage than goods

While the United States may be producing very little these days, with so much being outsourced to countries around the world, we are still keeping our #1 spot in the world in the production of garbage. The average American tosses 7.1 pounds of stuff away every day of the year.  That is the equivalent of 102 tons of garbage over one's lifetime.  According to Edward Hume, author of "Garbology: Our dirty love affair with trash", the USA's rate of garbage production is twice the rate of other Western economies with similar standards of living.

I was visiting with a friend a couple of days ago who talked about replacing his 20 something year old roof. He noted that thanks to an insurance claim a neighbor recently replaced a two year old roof due to hail damage. Seems a bit wasteful don't you think?

Nowhere is "planned obsolescence" more apparent than in the electronics industry. It can even be cheaper to purchase a new printer, or perhaps get one free with the purchase of a computer, than to replace its ink cartridge, let alone fix it should something go wrong.

I was pleased to visit with a salesperson at an Apple store today that indicate the iPad 2 is still really a great product, despite the new bells and whistles on the iPad 3 that came out one year later. 

If we are to reduce our waste we need to be a bit more discerning of our purchases, and consider the long-term cost to the environment.  It is disgusting to think of all the cheap plastic and disposable products that we consume in this society.  Instead of purchasing items of quality, which will be long lasting, we seem to prefer to purchase things which are cheap.

Buying things used can be one way to minimize our wasteful consumer habits.  Buying quality items will not only last longer, but also provide better service during their lifetimes.  As the Finnish saying goes... "Poor people cannot afford cheap things".

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