Does America have a Throw Away Society?

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Since 1955, after Life magazine named it so, the United States of America has been called “The Throwaway Society.” In the United States, society is based on the principal of convenience. In every aspect of life, Americans seek to maximize their output while minimizing their input. Americans buy fast food so that they can eat without the burden of grocery shopping, cooking, or cleaning up. Americans get their clothes dry cleaned so that they do not have to worry about the burden of washing, drying, and hanging up their own clothes. And Americans want everything in a neat, ready-to-use package to avoid the burden of preparing it themselves. But these millions of disposable bags, disposable bottles, and disposable cups add up to be a whole mess of trash.

Throw Away Societies Generate High Amounts of Disposable Products and Waste

Last year, America generated 250 million tons of trash, approximately 4.43 pounds of trash per person per day. For comparison’s sake, this much trash is equivalent to 125 million elephants, 1.5 billion burly offensive linemen, or 500 billion pounds of trash. Image 1 provides statistics about trash generation that support the

assertion that the United States is a throw-away society.

With this much trash generated daily as a nation, it would be difficult to argue that America is not a throw-away society. Those who claim America does not have a throw-away society would be unable to account for the face that while America has only 20 percent of the world’s population, it consumes 80 percent of the world’s resources. This makes America by far the highest per-capita waste generator in the world.

Recycling is Insufficient to Compensate for Trash Output

Of all of this waste, only 34 percent is recycled....

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...ts throw-away society has caused.

Works Cited

Capt. Charles Moore on the Seas of Plastic. Performed by Charles Moore. TED. February 2009. (accessed November 29, 2011).

Cooper, Mary H. "The Economics of Recycling." CQ Researcher, March 27, 1998: 265-288. (accessed November 28, 2011).

Griffin, Rodman D. "Garbage Crisis." CQ Researcher, March 20, 1992: 241-264. (accessed November 28, 2011).

"Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2010." United States Environmental Protection Agency. November 2011. (accessed November 30, 2011).

Weeks, Jennifer. "Future of Recycling." CQ Researcher, December 14, 2007: 1033-1060. (accessed November 29, 2011).

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