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The term ‘throwaway society’ has entered common parlance in recent years, due to the alarming levels of domestic waste produced in households across the world. Millions of people have become accustomed to using products for a short time - plastic bags, containers etc - before disposing of them in their home garbage.
The most obvious cause of this situation is the over-reliance on individual consumption of goods and services to grow the global economy and create jobs. The idea that anything that contributes to economic growth must be a good thing is increasingly being exposed as a fallacy. Endlessly producing and consuming goods on a planet with a limited number of resources will lead to an inevitable economic and environmental crisis.
Once the planet reaches a critical point in terms of the number of resources it has left, the global economic model will no longer be sustainable. Either a new economic model which is sustainable will be adopted, or social and economic order will breakdown. The consequences of the latter alternative will obviously be disastrous for the entire world. An environmental crisis brought on by resource exhaustion will have dire economic and social consequences, and may lead to war.
In conclusion, it is clear that the main causes of the ‘throwaway society’ are economic. Relying upon endless consumption of a limited number of resources is at the heart of this state of affairs and will lead to serious problems in the future unless swift action is taken.
By Timothy Williams