According to the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA), in 2010 the United States generated almost 14 million tons of plastics as containers and packaging. Plastic packaging is so cheap and convenient that most items bought at the grocery store can be found wrapped up in it. We know plastic grocery bags aren’t the green choice so what’s up with plastic packaging?
Electronic waste is one of the fastest-growing and least easily recycled forms of waste. With new electronic products constantly becoming available, cell phones, laptops, and TVs end up becoming outdated within a few years. So, we find ourselves throwing away the so-called old technology for the newer version.
Planned obsolescence is a seemingly inescapable facet of life under American capitalism. Ever since light bulb manufacturers first conspired to limit their products’ lifespan, we’ve been buying products designed to have limited lifespans and, for the most part, eating it up. Never before, however, have we seen such a fast turnover rate of high-tech consumer goods, many of which are still perfectly functional and only made “obsolete” by artificial standards – standards that serve only to improve already bloated corporate bottom lines. The negative impact this aspect of our culture has on our wallets is matched only by the murderous effect it has on the planet’s ecology: electronic waste is one of the fastest-growing and least easily recycled forms of waste, and the resource-intensive strip-mining of increasingly scarce rare-earth minerals in far-off locations is exacting a devastating toll on far-flung locations around the world. Add to this equation the enormous amount of petroleum, coal, and heavy metals used directly and indirectly in the production of these largely unnecessary goods, and the trend toward greater and greater consumption of the latest high-tech gadgets is an ominous sign for our planet’s future.