Waste not, want not

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Waste not, want not

Photo by: Jarrett Ramones

Photo by: Jarrett Ramones

Photo by: Jarrett Ramones

Story By: Rampage Editorial Board

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In an age of overconsumption, finding ways to cut back is essential.

In April 2013, the structural damage of an industrial garment factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh ended with a collapse of the multi-story building that killed over 1,000 workers, largely female garment workers.

The death of hundreds of low-income Bangladeshi women may seem like a faraway tragedy, but the ties that bind are even closer than you may think.

The now infamous Rana Plaza collapse, so-called due to the name of the destroyed building which produced clothing for American and European brands such as Mango and Walmart, sparked international outrage and criticism of a global clothing industry referred to colloquially as “fast fashion.”

 Fast fashion is only one subtle example of American consumerism gone awry, which leads in turn to exploitation of environmental and human resources.

With hidden landfills on the outskirts of cities, American trash exported to developing countries, cheap clothing sold for a few dollars and shiny produce stacked high in supermarkets, it is easy in the United States to forget that we are very much a part of the problem.

Yet the verdict is in; we are trashing our planet and its people with every careless move we make.

 Americans threw away 32 million tons of plastic waste in 2012, an Environmental Protection Agency study found. Of this exorbitant amount, only nine percent of the total plastic waste was ever recycled.

Likewise, Americans waste a nauseating amount of food each year. A 2013 U.S. Dept. of Agriculture press release stated that 133 billion pounds of food that was bought or produced in America was never consumed.

If these numbers are starting to make you feel a little guilty, you might find yourself asking “What can I do to stop such excessive waste?”

So how do we do this? By changing our buying habits and lifestyle choices.

 A few key examples include boycotting unnecessary products or those which we know are created unethically, buying only what we need from supermarkets and using it completely, taking shorter showers, using non-plastic containers, recycling all waste products, and purchasing “new” clothing at thrift stores.

According to a 2013 Food and Agricultural Organization study about the problems of wasted food, “Food wastage represents a missed opportunity to improve global food security, but also to mitigate environmental impacts.”

Indeed, the majority of food wasted can be utilized in simple, healthy meals. Planning weekly meals around specific products can be an effective way to make use of items that typically get left to rot, grow stale, or sit on shelves until the sheer thought of them becomes unappetizing.

It is imperative that all Americans take responsibility for their actions and consumer purchases.

We as a nation must put our foot (and wallets) down so that we may think critically about how we can realistically effect change.

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