There's waste and then there's Waste. What better week than Earth Week to compile some notes on just how wasteful we, as a planet, have become.
Atlantic contributor and author of The End of Nature Bill McKibben starts us out with a bang in today's Mother Jones. In leafing through our encyclopedia of waste, McKibben dubs the worthless material errata of the world as "stuffporn." It's everything from the low-hanging fruit of the waste world, like junk paper mail, to the out-of-sight-out-of-mind spewers like the internet servers that need to pump out tons of extra carbon to process junk email and spam--which accounts for 90 percent of email traffic. Make your own list of stuffporn today. It certainly won't take long.
The veteran environmentalist lumps a great deal of modern-day America--including finance graduates--into our great misled culture of stuffporn. What a waste of intellect and ideas to send a generation into office towers to devise foresightless financial strategies that are supposed to do what exactly?
He goes on remind us that there is no level playing field out there when it comes to societal waste either: "the next time someone tells you that population is at the root of our troubles, remind them that the average American uses more energy between the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve and dinner on January 2 than the average, say, Tanzanian consumes in a year. Population matters, but it really matters when you multiply it by proximity to Costco."
Where McKibben leaves off, we'll pick up. Majora Carter is just one of our experts on living a greener lifestyle. The president of the Majora Carter Group told us when she visited Big Think, "understanding that in doing what you can in whatever capacity you have to understand that--especailly if you are living a more privileged lifestyle--that there are more communites that aren't. So when you flush your toilet, when you throw something away. it doesn't just go away. It really does impact someone else's community."
The changes we need to make will be hard. They will be painful for some. Severing the psychological cord to our consumptive vanities will sting, but only for a short while. Then we'll realize we never needed any of McKibben's stuffporn in the first place.