Americans and consumerism go hand-in-hand — it’s what we’re known for. But what we consume is not finite. … Nor do we want it to be. There’s always more to eat, listen to, watch, and buy. We’re just never satisfied.
But our consumerist lifestyle doesn’t end with the purchase — it goes way beyond that. We amass waste in both the physical and metaphorical form. From the growing number of unusable plastics in our landfills to the average number of relationships Americans go through in middle school, the imprint of our consumption is ever-increasing. We live in a society where it’s not only acceptable — but encouraged — to take and throw away.
Some of this waste can be seen in the streets of Beijing, China, where the waste dumps are overflowing, a product of perpetual consumption in the country. Read about it in Mimi Reynolds’ article “An Excess of Filth.”
In other situations, we throw away our rights. In “The Voter’s Conscience,” Megan Devlin explores the culture of voting and how it differs among youth in America and Morocco.
Other times we throw away things that are less tangible — like our relationships. Whether we’re jumping from boyfriend to girlfriend to boyfriend to boyfriend every two weeks or leaving our spouses after twenty years of marriage, our country has started seeing the definition of marriage change from “Forever and Always” to “For Now.” Read “I Can’t Hear the Bells” for more.
And sometimes, we prove to be the worst at throwing away our waste. In “Psychologists Discover Early Signs of Hoarding” in Sawdust, Rachel Maus muses on people who just can’t seem to part from their possessions.
From throw-away entertainment to the literal logistics of taking out the trash, the act of Throwing Away can take many forms. It’s not all bad, it’s not all good, but it’s all disposable.
P.S. Recycle this issue when you’re done. Or share it. Or use it as a frisbee.