chapter  3
23 Pages

Waste: Our Sinks Are Almost Sunk

ByMichael Carolan

The very concept of waste is a social construction. There is no waste in the so-called natural world; everything released, emitted, secreted, and discarded is food for something else. Pollution is another interesting term, referring to a specific type of waste. Plastic waste, for instance, often contains residues from its original contents, like toxic cleaners, pesticides, and herbicides. Tens of millions of pounds of electronic waste in the United States get funneled annually into its prison system for recycling. Consumers and stockholders are asking companies to do more to reduce waste, and those businesses, in turn, are responding by promising to use more recycled materials in their products. A study by the FAO reports that 33 percent of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally. The majority of e-waste in developed countries is exported to less affluent nations to be recycled.