The Throwaway Epidemic

Purnoor T.

In the past few decades, humans have taken to a more sedentary lifestyle. This has not only lead to the over consumption of disposable items around the household, but has also had an impact on the amount of waste we produce. We have substituted products such as cloth diapers, plates, utensils, etc., for their disposable counter-parts.

Our society has become irrevocably dependent on limited resources that our environment might not be able to supply us with 30 years down the road, and mass-production of items has made it significantly easier to avoid the elephant in the room. With many landfills in Canada reaching capacity, we have to turn to other sources for proper waste disposal. Can our impudent actions result in a major cataclysm for our decedents? In 2008 alone, local governments spent about $2.6 billion on waste management, a significant increase from just two years earlier.


Large companies and conglomerates have taken advantage of our ‘throwaway’ society and have encouraged and propagated consumerism. As early as the 1950s, consumerism was embedded into the economy of most of North America. When citizens spent more on consumer goods, sales and income tax revenues rose and governments quickly supported this event.

Plastic is quick and easy- a synonym for convenience. But through all of this, we avoided the elephant in the room at all costs; what would we do without our natural resources? A Cree proverb describes this dilemma well: “Only after the last tree has been cut down, only after the last river has been poisoned, only after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.” Our reliance on a limited resource is forcing us to consider alternatives to our current way of existence, and we can no longer allow ourselves to engage in profligately happenings. In our current economic system that seems to aim towards perpetual growth, we risk being trapped within a destructive linear and stagnant cycle.

In recent years, we have begun to slowly address the ecological issues we are facing. Although our efforts remain desultory, we have begun to notice the impact on our sensitive environment. Through the installation of proper municipal recycling systems, the Canada has lowered the number of waste production from a deplorable 25,907,467  tons in 2008, to 24,883,546  tons in 2010.

Through furthering our knowledge of ecological impacts of many of our products, we can aim to instill ideals that aspire to create a more balanced earth, while becoming more educated shoppers. We can kindle a prosperous and virtuous society where we value our environment, and consequently, each other.

OliveGrove Ad Westmount


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