Challenging the Throwaway Culture of Convenience
Saving the world isn’t hard. It’s just inconvenient.
Why? We live in a throwaway society built upon convenience.
We throw away stuff and the natural resources that make it possible. We throw away people by turning a blind eye. We throw away ideas when they don’t fit into our ideological norm.
We throw away without a sense of responsibility; without guilt or shame; without acknowledging the dignity of the Earth that has given of itself for our so-called gain. We spite the Mother that has done nothing but provide for our every whim.
The long-term viability of humanity—as well as all other species and the planet itself—is being compromised for the sake of convenience. FASTER, CHEAPER, EASIER. That’s the mantra of Modern Society. It’s a sad testament to the supposed ingenuity and genius of humankind. Plunder, pillage, profit. Repeat ad nauseam.
Pause for a moment and look around. Our lives – yours and mine – are surrounded by the throwaway mindset. It’s so difficult to escape. The Engine of Capitalism hums along because of it. Western culture thrives like blood-sucking mosquito on it.
Broke or worn? Toss and replace. New version? Toss and upgrade. Out of style? Toss and get back in with the crowd before anyone notices. One-time-use This; disposable That.
It’s been generations in the making, ushered in with the dawn of the modern industrial age. And since then, we’ve been polishing it on the backs of cheap energy and cheap labor. For me, this is the ugly downside of technology, of innovation, of brainpower. We have sold our spirit for All-In-One Gadgets, All-Purpose Gizmos and One-Time-Use-Everything Else.
I might be nostalgic but where did the cobbler go? The TV and vacuum cleaner repairman? The seamstress? The DIY gusto that Saturdays, a few screwdrivers, wrenches and some elbow grease used to be made for? Heck, even duct tape and superglue are going out of style.
Alas, I always try to come back to the root cause, the silver bullet reason. But for this, I don’t think there is one.
Cheap energy and labor certainly makes more things affordable for more people. Throw in easy access to credit and an ever-rising debt ceiling. Add a big dash of Stuff=Happiness mentality. And top it off with a blatant ignorance and disregard for the Earth and its life-giving bounty. What you get is a recipe for disaster. And the truth is: The egg timer is close to hitting zero on this one.
Further, I believe there is a direct connection between our search for the FASTER/CHEAPER/EASIER and some of the most pressing issues of modern (in particular, American) society: Obesity, heart disease, diabetes, education and literacy, climate change, rapidly diminishing biodiversity; the list can go on.
If we are to turn this thing around – to reclaim our lives and the Life of the planet – this culture of convenience must come to an end. It is unsustainable. It is not the lesson we should be passing on to our children. It is not a pathway for living deeply each day.
The only sure fire way to start bucking this culture is to not contribute to it. To rise up and take a stand. To confront and challenge the Culture of Convenience head on with zeal and fervor:
- Just Say No. Start consuming less. Today. Challenge yourself to make do with what you have.
- Go In For the Long Haul. Invest in quality goods and start taking care of what you own.
- Be Resourceful. Seek to fix and repair, not toss and replace.
- Strip Down. Avoid things that are over-packaged. Forgo packaging and bagging when you can.
- See the Bigger Picture. Shift your perspective on Nature and your place in it.
- See Down the Road. Think about the trickle down effects of each choice you make.
- Pay It Forward. Teach your children and set an example for them.
- Put It On the Line. Walk the talk. Then challenge your friends and family to keep up with you.
Personally, I am renewing my commitment to not be part of the problem. Here is my commitment to you:
- I will never buy a coffee if I don’t have my reusable mug with me; won’t even think of bottled water
- I will never buy or eat a meal if I cannot use reusable dinnerware and silverware
- If I do have to buy something I will make sure I can recycle or compost it
- I will not use elevators or escalators but take the stairs; I will walk, bike or take public transportation wherever possible
- I will not use one-time-use items like paper towels, wrapping stuff, and bags; I will find alternative uses for anything I already have on hand
- I will freecycle, donate or sell any household item I eliminate in the constant pursuit of getting rid of unnecessary things.
- I will give periodic updates on The New Pursuit to keep you updated and keep me honest.
Yes, these are small things. But they are achievable. They initiate momentum within the broader world and set the stage for bigger and better challenges down the road.
Will you join me? Will you take a stand today and start bucking The Throwaway Culture of Convenience? How will you do it? Leave a comment and share your plan of attack.
If you found this helpful, please consider sharing it with your circle. You may also enjoy these posts:
- Perspective: Why a Change is Needed and How You Can Do It
- Consumption Junction: 5 Steps Towards Reclaiming the Lost Art of Moderation
- Meditation: The Awesome Power of Nature