The Disposable Society

The conversation I just had with a colleague is proof of so much that is wrong with the world.

She lives in a suburban house build in the late 80s. She is currently renovating the bathroom, ensuite, laundry and kitchen. (The funny bit is that the renovation comes to more than budgeted for my land, tiny house, caravan, shed, gardens, solar system, rainwater tanks…) I asked her what she will be doing with all the stuff she is ripping out – the kitchen cupboards, sink, stove, oven, bathtub, etc. Her response – it makes me shudder – “Well. It’s all very old and 80s styling. We’re going to take it to the tip”. What? Really? A perfectly good kitchen, bathroom, ensuite and laundry to the tip, to become landfill.All because it doesn’t fit her tastes anymore? What is with society being so free about just disposing things?

I told her about the plethora of ways she could get rid of the stuff that would be of less effort and expense to her – heck, she may even be able to make some money back. Not interested. Too much hassle she thinks. According to her nobody would want the stuff when they could just as easily walk into IKEA and buy a complete kitchen relatively cheap.

She lives on another world.

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7 thoughts on “The Disposable Society

  1. i think someone will pick it up at the tip, and reuse it. this person’s leavings, is another person’s livelihood. so lets not assume it will all be wasted. in nature, one species waste is another’s food. I look at all this as one person’s throwaway as part of natures’ recycling so i dont despair of the human race. the other extreme are those who hoard everything. when that person dies, all their hoard gets removed anyway.

    • You may be right. All or some of it may be reused – though, tips have increasingly tightened their rules on scavenging. It’s more of the attitude that I have a problem with. Inevitably one persons junk is another persons treasure. I think it ought to be a more conscious exchange. Rather than hoping for the best – that somebody finds and puts it to good use – we ought to make it our responsibility to send it to a good home, if you will. It ought to be part of the justification to ourselves, e.g. can I really justify buying a new cell phone if the one I have I perfectly adequate – could I justify just throwing the old one in the bin?

      Your logic could be used on food wastage too. However, I think that is a vastly different story. “Oh but the food wastage will feed the gulls at the landfill” we might assume. Is that what we want to happen? Have good food go bad so it is only good enough for landfill-scavenging birds? We ought to ensure that as much of it ends up in the mouths of those for which it was intended.

  2. That is a very common thought process – to believe that because Ikea (or other places) sell such cheap goods new that no-one in their right mind would ever re-use the stuff they are getting rid of. We live in a very quick and cheap place right now. Plus the process for recycling or upcycling can be rather complicated which is not to say you shouldn’t do it but unless it’s as easy as ‘dumping’ stuff at the tip we shall forever have this problem. People want fast and easy not slow and hard – it’s just an education thing which by the sounds of it you tried to do with your colleague.

    • Thanks for your comment Sophie.

      Oh I did try. However, at every turn she gave me an objection. Oh well. We are very different people with very different values.

      You’re right; we do live that fast, cheap lifestyle. However, I have faith. There are hints that things are on the change. People are, en masse, becoming a lot more conscious of various ethical issues.

      Declaration: I bought a table from IKEA a few months ago. An INGO – solid pine, versatile dimensions. It’s the sort of table that will last for a long time – it can be sanded back, painted, easily repaired… heck, used as firewood at end of its life (I don’t think the wood has been treated).

    • Thanks for the comment, Khala.

      I’d like to say that we should just accept that we’re all different. However, when the costs affect us all – the environmental crap we’re in is due to the fast-paced system that fosters attitudes like the ones held by your mother and my colleague – I increasingly find it difficult to just stand aside and let them be blissfully ignorant; stubbornly conditioned by a system that wants them to think that way. I have faith, though. The attitude seems to be changing. Changing due to the positivity of some. Showing others that living sustainably doesn’t need to be austere. It can bring great happiness to ones life. In fact, that’s why I am doing what I am doing. I know that living with less will make me happier. I live with – and spend – less now than I ever have and you know what, it feels great. My pleasure comes from different places – places that aren’t so expensive; both fiscally and environmentally. But I am not quite there yet – in that realm where I will find contentment. I work like a dog and need to stop it. My time needs to be my time.

  3. Pingback: Adapt to your situation | A Desirable World

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