Waste And Want By Susan Strasser

1295 Words6 Pages
Humankind produces and consumes with little regard for waste. Susan Strasser’s Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash focuses on consumption’s byproduct; trash and what humankind has done to dispose of their waste over the past decades. Strasser catalogues an often deemed unsophisticated part of our modern society as being “central to our lives yet generally silenced or ignore” (p.36), throughout her book elucidating on the premise that one’s own view and opinion of what is deemed as trash varies greatly from person to person. Strasser explicates to the reader the rise of mass markets across the world and the impacts that production and consumption have on the creation of trash. Strasser begins to follow the story of trash in the pre-colonial era, and describes the evolution of trash as being directly correlated to the changing aspects of society primarily focusing her research in the nineteenth century. Strasser’s justification for the evolution of trash production and how it has become a fundamental aspect of everyday life presently focuses on the shifting viewpoints of what should be done with waste materials. Strasser asserts that before the turn of the twentieth century, numerous products on the market were produced with the idea of being reused and recycled when their intended use had been expended. The idea of recycling waste was an aspect of life prior to the twentieth century as many people reused what they had purchased as a means of getting the most out of their dollar. As a result, the American public didn’t interpret the recycling of trash as anything special for the environment but only for the betterment of their own homes. Raw materials which were purchased had numerous uses in households prior to the twentiet... ... middle of paper ... ... reader to pile through heaps of facts regarding trash, babbling on differences that she necessarily didn’t explain further during her argument. Strasser’s book was more a description of common sense acknowledgment if anything- basically claiming the more products produced the more trash to follow. She includes heaps of evidence for her claims, but her overall argument is one that could be understood without all the included background information. Exposing the reasons why as a collective human’s produce mass amounts of trash does not leave the reader with a call to action as manufacturing in the U.S. has shifted for good in between rural and urban cities. As a reader, I do agree with Strasser that as a country our ideals regarding waste have shifted away from conservative approaches, but consumer America would not be what it is today without mass production.

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