Developed countries, particularly the United States, are essentially responsible for resource depletion and a great deal of pollution. Every year, Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times (cleanair.org). We also throw away about 40% of our food (washingtonpost.com). Over the course of my career, I’d like to find ways to reduce waste and raise awareness regarding non-sustainable consumerism. Many people are unaware of what can be recycled; and many are not educated on the products they bring into their homes that eventually end up in their garbage.
Unfortunately, many aspects of western culture promote what I like to refer to as blind consumerism. Every day we are bombarded by television and radio commercials, magazine ads, billboards, and computer ads that are meant to persuade and entrance us. People are told to buy things, and once they have them, they’re told it’s obsolete. While most don’t intend to contribute to resource depletion and wastefulness through their purchases, the fact is most people have no idea the impact their making through their purchasing habits. By this, I do not mean positive feedback where buying a product encourages the manufacturer. I mean that most people are not aware of the resources that go into creating the products they buy, the pollution generated manufacturing them, or what happens to them once they’re thrown in the garbage.
In my opinion, I do not believe our educational system places enough emphasis on environmental well-being and I think this is a key contributor to environmental detachment. Personally, I had exactly one class that focused specifically on the environment before I graduated high school (which I chose – not a requirement). I know many individuals that graduated without one single class educating them on environmental issues. However, for me, that one class changed the entire course of my life. That one class is what made me decide to pursue environmental studies in college. I fear that many people were deprived of the enlightenment I received because our educational system does not require a class focusing on environmental awareness.