We must re-evaluate our consumptive and wasteful lifestyle
Sometime back, I spent some time in the country of Haiti, which is one of our neighbors to the south. Many things are different because it’s not only semi-tropical but it is the poorest nation in the western hemisphere.Listening to the voodoo drums and chanting through most of the night tended to be a little disconcerting. One thing that stood out to me was that I never saw a trash can, a garbage truck or a dump. Everything they have is worn as clothes, eaten or burned for fuel.Coming from a culture that is swimming in trash, the contrast was striking. Obviously, the extreme poverty was the major contributor to a trashless society. Maybe, however, it could stimulate some thinking on our part.Global warming is a big issue that is being used as a power play by some politicians. The real issue, of course, is whether or not it is man caused and also whether or not it is good or bad.
Probably the major contributor to the generation of greenhouse gases and the depletion of natural resources is our prosperous consumer society.We need to rethink our throwaway life style. There are several angles to the problem. For instance, appliances can’t be repaired, or, if they can be, a new one costs less than the repairs. Computers are outdated and thrown away. Cell phone technology renders the old ones useless.Try to replace the batteries in your tool set and you’ll discover that you can buy a whole new tool set for slightly more than the cost of the replacement batteries. Rapid changes in technology and people’s greed for the new stuff generate huge amounts of trash.Just as a side note, think of all the fuel and equipment necessary to haul and dispose of all our waste. We try recycling but end up realizing it’s just a feel-good exercise because it takes more money, time and effort to recycle than it does to just dump it.Landfills become huge problems. The only possible benefit is to drill them for methane.
Consider the incredible amount of energy and resources consumed just to create stuff to put in landfills.If you operate vehicles – or any equipment, for that matter – you soon discover that parts are made to be replaced, not repaired. Deliberate obsolescence or finite life span is also part of the program. Some months ago I uncovered some documents that were 30 years or more old and, guess what, the rubber bands still worked. Today’s rubber bands last about two weeks.I could “ramble” on but consumers need to demand solutions if we are to be responsible to future generations. It will certainly date me, but I remember when jelly came in glasses that could be used for drinking. How about when flour came in sacks that were reusable fabrics? I remember when we could repair our own cars and my old Ford got 21 miles per gallon. Fifty years later my new car isn’t doing any better but it has lots of winking lights telling me I need to spend money on it.Computers were supposed to save trees by reducing paper consumption but we are being buried in printouts and “permanent records” because computers can dump everything.I was in a house in Germany that was built in the early 1700’s. Now we don’t plan for buildings to last longer than 50 years.
Back in engineering classes I was taught that simple was better because it was less expensive to build, lasted longer and was easier to repair. Our ego-driven society has bought the pitch that complex is better, but we are going to pay a high price in the long run.If we care about future generations we need to re-evaluate our consumptive and wasteful lifestyle.Worry about your carbon footprint after you’ve reduced your trash print.Ross L. Talbott lives in New Castle.
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