The rapid advancement of technology and trends has resulted in more consequences than benefits. The speed of advancement in today’s world gives way to throwaway culture. Throwaway culture is the practice of throwing something away even though it can be reused (1). In a world where everyone prioritizes new innovations, it is not surprising that throwaway culture has become more prevalent. While technology advancements promise brighter, more efficient futures, they also leave concerns revolving around sustainability and consumer behaviors.
In a world where people are looking for the next new thing, it is not surprising that throwaway is a global problem. The desire for the newer things, because of their supposed efficiency and improvement, renders the things we owned obsolete with alarming speed. One prominent example of throwaway culture is fast fashion. Many brands put out new items, persuading customers to buy them. Later, a new trend is set by another company, causing people to shop once again. This cycle causes people to get caught up in a whirlwind of buying things for temporary use. Moreover, throwaway culture can also be seen in the technological sphere. For example, most of the latest phones are purposely made fragile so that people will buy another phone in a shorter amount of time. The impact of throawat culture is more sever in the technological sphere. The number of phones discarded in a short time results in e-waste, which is usually incinerated. Additionally, unsafe handling of e-waste exposes us to toxic chemicals such as lead, mercury, and arsenic, which may result in incurable health diseases like cancer (2).
In regards to sustainability, the consequences of buying new things substantially overshadow its benefits. The incessant manufacturing and disposal of items results in high pollution and waste levels. In fact, since the 20th century, pollution rates have increased each decade; about 36.6 billion carbon dioxide have been emitted by industrialization (3). Despite this, many companies tend to exploit throwaway culture to advertise their products and make profit. People are unnecessarily buying and spending money on items that they throw away after single use, resulting in a larger customer base for large businesses. Companies are exploiting throwaway culture to their advantage while also indirectly harming the environment. Not only does throwaway culture deplete resources, but it also creates extensive waste (4). Some of the wastes are brought to the landfill or incinerated. Burning waste causes even more issues as it releases carbon dioxide into the air, which exacerbates climate change. Since we have more waste than we have space for, it is crucial that we address the problems throwaway culture causes. Some ways we can do this is by avoiding buying things that are meant for single uses, such as plastic water bottles and straws. There are many eco-friendly alternatives to the items we use in our daily life. With unified efforts, the negative impacts of throwaway culture can be allayed.
Companies and large businesses can also help with the issue of throwaway culture. Instead of prioritizing profit over sustainability, companies can make products that are durable and easily repairable. This way customers do not need to fall into a cycle of planned obsolescence, where they constantly buy new things for temporary use. Through these measures companies can promote more sustainable measures to consumption.
Ultimately, we should all re-consider what we value when buying things. We should prioritize durability, longevity, and quality when buying items in order to mitigate the problems throwaway culture causes. As a community, taking these steps will pave the way towards a more sustainable future not only for us, but also for future generations.
“Cleaning Up Electronic Waste (E-Waste).” EPA, www.epa.gov/international-cooperation/cleaning-electronic-waste-e-waste. Accessed 16 Aug. 2023.
Hadjiosif, Sofia. “How We Became a Throw-Away Society • Terra Movement.” Terra Movement, 7 Nov. 2021, www.terramovement.com/how-we-became-a-throw-away-society/. Accessed 16 Dec. 2023.