J500 Media and the Environment


American Consumption Addiction by beccan

Growing up, my mom and dad made sure I knew the difference between needs and wants. We would go shopping and when I picked something up to show my mom she would ask, “Now, do you really need that or do you want it?” and I would hesitantly say, “want it” without any argument as to why I should get it. I just knew that it wasn’t going home with me. 

Photo courtesy of flickr.com

Needs v. Wants

 

As much as I dreaded that question as a kid, I now realize why my mother drilled that concept of needs and wants into my head. In the United States, we account for 5% of the world’s population yet account for 30% of the world’s resources. If everyone consumed like we do, we would need three to five planets to contain all of the waste.

For some strange reason, the idea that when we throw something away it simply disappears into thin air, has been engraved in our minds and is starting to affect our planet. We buy, buy, buy and do not see the damage that is being done or the consequences to our wastefulness. Our ignorance is killing our home and it is going to take a lifestyle overhaul to change it.

Having the newest phone, car, computer, you-name-it, is so important to us as Americans. The stuff that we have determines our social status and that status is so important in the American culture. Just think, when the U.S. was deep in the recession people freaked out, because they were not going to be able to consume mindlessly anymore. It made people crabby, because they couldn’t have all of the new stuff they wanted.

The internet has also made it easier to consume. We do not even have to get out of our chairs to buy new stuff anymore; it is delivered to our doorsteps. Advertisers tell us that to be “cool” in society we need to have the latest gadgets, styles and trends, which means we throw our barely-used stuff in the landfill to replace it with a new version of the same thing. This lifestyle has started to spin out of control. 

 There has been a consistent increase in the amount that Americans waste each year and the question is: can this be stopped or are we too far into our consumption addiction to turn it around? 

Becca N.

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For the love of landfills by tylerw09
March 6, 2009, 4:18 pm
Filed under: Society + Media, Waste + Recycling | Tags: , , , ,

birds

I feel at home in a landfill. I love everything about it, all the different colors, textures, shapes and especially the smell. The smell that stays with you all day. The smell that gets on your clothes and your shoes and completely overwhelms you.

I love going to landfills because I can actually show people how awful they are. I could list staggering statistics like how Americans throw away around 40 billion bottles and soft drink cans and 25 billion Styrofoam cups each year, but I feel that these numbers can be expressed better in a visual way.

plate

cans

store_soda

store-foil

These photographs are from a project I did on mass consumption a few years ago. I tried to show the tremendous amount of waste and how are society makes these products readily available to consume and throw away. As has been said many times “away is a place” and this place is a landfill.

I am the youngest of 4 children, all boys. Most of my clothes are hand me downs, I’ve never really lived any other way. This is a good way to reuse old things, which is the second step to the good old phrase “reduce, reuse, recycle.” I reduce my wardrobe by not having many clothes in the first place, and donate all my clothes to goodwill to reuse them. Every American throws away over 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per year, and this could be dramatically reduced if people shopped more at second hand stores or the goodwill and reused old clothes. The photographer Chris Jordan has also done some wonderful work on mass consumption.

I will continue to document the horror of landfills. If people see where “away” is then maybe they will start reusing things and think twice before throwing things out.

doll

– Tyler Waugh