Beyond Pickup Boonville
“The History of Consumerism and Garbage” Part 3.
Advertisers craftily play with our emotions, vying for our buck. No wonder our homes, curbs and landfills are full of “stuff”! This week will conclude my timeline study with more interesting tidbits -
1960 - Plastics became one of the largest industries in the country; Styrofoam emerged as a new disposable.
1961 – Proctor & Gamble introduced disposable diapers
1970 – First Earth Day, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” concept promoted; Recycling became popular again, drop-off recycling centers were established; Rising energy costs - recycling saved energy
1970s - Manufactures deployed smoke screen of job losses and economic doom to head off packaging regulations
1972 – First deposit law in the US, roadside litter down 35 percent by volume, millions fewer beverage containers were consumed, energy savings, jobs increased, prices stabilized; Later most repealed - Disposables favored by grocery store chains as it saved labor and space
1976 – Beverage containers fastest growing type of solid waste; Packaging, measured by weight, became the single largest category of municipal solid waste at 34 percent
1980s - Curbside recycling systems began
Late 1980s – An EPA study reports more than 99 percent of all plastic containers were discarded after only a single use. Americans were throwing away 10 million tons of plastic each year, 25 percent of all waste by volume.
1981 - Americans held over six million garage sales a year, generating nearly a billion dollars, freeing up space for more consumption.
1993 -The EPA reported that domestic recycling had tripled from seven percent to almost 22 percent. Recycling programs are expected to pay for themselves, while solid waste departments are fully funded no matter what. Recycling has long been the enemy of the solid waste industry, stealing volumes otherwise headed for profit making landfills.
2005 - Over 30 percent of municipal waste is packaging and 40 percent of that is plastic; Much of America’s discards get shipped overseas for recycling and disposal.
Our population and consumerism has grown exponentially - All at the expense of our Earth and finite natural resources. It seems our appetites are insatiable – exactly what the advertisers and Billionaires want. We are bombarded by ads, stores even open on Thanksgiving vying for the Christmas buck. We all “need” things, I get that. But when it comes to “wants” or simply the desire to shop, maybe try a Second Hand Store or take a nature walk instead! Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!