Thursday, August 03, 2006

Disposable Society

Remember the good old days when things were made to last? Neither do I, that was before my time. But I'll bet my parents do, back before disposables took over our world, (the developed world anyway).

We have become a society of disposables. Disposable diapers, paper cups and plates, plastic knives and forks, kleenex, individually wrapped-ready to eat/drink food, paper-towelling, heck we even have the swiffer now, to replace mops.

Don't get me wrong, I would rather use toilet paper than, say newspaper... I'll bet the plumbing likes it way better too. And I think kleenex you use once and throw away is probably a lot more hygienic than a hankie used a few times. But couldn't you just have a lot of hankies and throw them in the wash after each use? I use mostly facecloths to clean my babies' bums and I have a whole lot of them, I don't re-use them without washing them first.

I don't even need to touch on paper/styrofoam plates,... I think greenpeace and the like have said it all...

And all this ready to eat, individually wrapped food... isn't that a lot of packaging? Look at all the plastic containers involved. Okay, I'm guilty of using the stuff too,... but usually it's because I've been lazy or haven't prepared ahead. I guess one of the effects of a disposable society is that you don't have to prepare ahead anymore. I'm guilty of using disposable diapers too, from time to time, but again, if I didn't have the choice, and if they weren't so darn EASY, and I weren't so darn LAZY, I wouldn't.

Swiffer commercials say: "Don't clean your floor with dirty water." But if you change your water often enough, you're not. And what about all those cleaning cloths you're throwing away? Is that better? Maybe not any better than throwing out dirty water? What we need to do perhaps, is just never clean the floors. Hey! It's for the environment! Of course, you can always get yourself a dog who'll clean the floors for you,...

Plastics aren't even good for you. Sure they are lighter and less breakable than glass, but there is stuff in them that leaches out into the food and can cause cancer and sterility in both males and females.

According to the Children's Health Environmental Coalition, a common plastic that is used in making baby bottle and teethers is polycarbonate. This polycarbonate can leach a hormone disrupting chemical called bisphenol-A (BPA) into bottles when they are heated or sterilized. BPA affects the endocrine system and has been linked to cancer, sterility and developmental problems. The FDA believes that this type of plastic is safe, but until more is learned, (...) it makes sense to limit the exposure to this kind of potentially harmful chemical.

Another type of plastic that is used in teethers, toys and bottles is polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PVC is the most toxic of the plastics, and it is related to the phthalate family of chemicals. Phalates are hormone-disrupting chemicals that are used as plastic softeners. There other concerns about PVC plastic as well. When administered at high doses to animals, PVC caused increased cancer rates and damage to the liver, kidneys and other organs. PVC can also contain lead, which is known to cause developmental delays in children. Several years ago, the Consumer Product Safety Commission asked manufacturers to voluntarily eliminate phthalates from toys, and the large toy retailers stopped selling products containing PVC. Many products still contain high levels of PVC, and many retailers (including some chain drugstores) still sell these products.Read more.

The issue of endocrine disruptors hit us all in the ecological solar plexis. We learned that many substances, that are known endocrine disrupters, are used as additions to plastics and that they leach out from them. In fact, just one of these substances, Di (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate “is principally used [95%] as a plasticizer in the production of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and vinyl chloride resins.” (Ref: Toxicological Profile for Di (2-Etheylhexyl) Phthalate, April 1993, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.)

Plastics are used for practically everything - packaging for food; furniture; construction; medical supplies; toys, etc. They have replaced many safer materials. In fact, we are losing, at an exponential rate, our ability to manufacture safe materialsRead more.
If living in a disposable society tends to rob us of our ability to plan and prepare ahead... It also seems to rob us of our ability to think clearly in terms of what is important. Convenience has become a ideal. Rapidity is an ideal. Get what you want, when you want. We don't want to work hard or have to wait anymore. And you end up only getting the quality you are willing to put the effort into. When something seems to good to be true, it probably is. Like toys from the dollar store.

This has spilled over into our relationships. Especially when it comes to sex. People aren't willing to wait anymore. They want it right now. They start out their relationships with it. Or they don't even bother having a relationship. People have become disposable. What is a prostitute if not a disposable sex partner? Okay so prostitutes have been around a bit longer than kleenex,... but has the problem ever been greater than in this last century? Sex has become a commodity, sex sells.

Whatever happened to patience? And waiting? The longer you wait for something, or someone, the more you appreciate it, or them. When people reduce themselves to objects of sex, they lose respect. Even in our sex-crazed society. Who do people genuinely respect more? Mother Theresa or Pamela Anderson?

People want easy sex, with no complications, no relationships, no responsibilites. Empty sex. Like I said, you only get the quality you are willing to put the effort into.

What is worse is that people's LIVES have become disposable as well. Got an unwanted pregancy? We can take care of that. Got a very sick/very old patient? We can take care of that. When there is no hope of saving a person, and to keep them alive they have to be on a machine to help them breathe and/or keep their heart beating, pulling the plug is one thing. What happens is called natural death. When someone's mental facilities are gone, but he/she is capable of breathing and natural functions, to pull the plug that feeds them is called STARVING THEM TO DEATH. (AKA murder) When do we start crossing the line from someone like Terri Schiavo who was "brain dead" (but who could still have drunk water from a glass had someone been allowed to give it to her?) to a severely mentally handicapped person? Are we going to kill them off too? Actually, we already are... while they are in the womb.

Having babies is a commodity. You can choose to kill the unwanted ones, and should you choose to have one by yourself, you can be artifically inseminated. You don't have to be married to have a baby, and you can have as many different fathers as you have babies. What happens when these kids grow up and start having sex/babies with people who could (unbeknownst to them) be their half-sibling, or half-cousin or whatever?

There's a reason that sex should be between two people who love each other for other reasons as well, within a mariage that both are putting an effort in to make last. The more you try to get around it, the more complications you create. And the more people insist on sticking to their "ideal" of Sexual Liberation, the more they will become ruthless in their quest to make it so. Abortion was only the beginning.

So much for Dollar Store sex.

Some disposable things, like toilet paper, kind of need to be disposable. (after all, the whole point of a toilet is to dispose of unneeded stuff, right?) Disposable (or at the very least, properly disinfected) needles and such in hospitals and other similar places is also a necessity. But when the outcome of using something disposable is nastier than if you didn't use it, maybe it's time to find a better way.