Monday, May 28, 2007

Throwaway Culture

I read a most disturbing article in my local paper, The Fresno Bee yesterday. The article, "Dorms expose a throwaway culture" was written by Larry Gordon, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. The article exposed the fact that "college campuses become junkyards of abandoned stuff" - belongings left behind by graduating seniors. Accompanying the article was a photo showing just a small portion of the mountain of lamps, chairs, computers, printers, small dressers, storage containers, bedding, and clothing left behind by exiting college students.

What has happened? These students are a part of the generation who more so than any other generation in history has been taught the importance of recycling, reusing, and keeping the earth "green" in every possible way. These young people have been encouraged to stand in the city squares and student unions to promote environmental friendliness and to warn the world of certain doom due to global warming. And yet, it appears, this same generation is perfectly fine with the idea of contributing generously to trash landfills.

Mr. Gordon points out in the article that students are perfectly willing to leave items behind when they leave college for good, or even for just the summer, because their parents are just fine with buying another clock radio, pillow, printer, or wardrobe for whatever and wherever the next step takes them. These indulgent parents are the same people who are generously supporting the Al Gores and Michael Moores of the world. They drive with pride their hybrid vehicles, and they gladly funnel their donations into all things "green". They then turn around and support their spoiled child's decision to trash perfectly usable electronics and clothing by replacing the "trash" with newer, better...MORE!!

Does this kind of decadence really surprise us? We live in a world where unwanted, unborn children are trashed just as easily as yesterday's newspaper. What makes us think that we can teach our children the importance of saving the planet when we put zero importance on saving lives?

Thankfully many colleges have found ways to keep the unwanted, but still usable discards out of the landfills. They are donating the items to various charities, or they are holding massive yard sales and donating the proceeds to worthy causes.

Until we start putting at least as much importance on saving the unborn as we do on saving the planet we will never really convince anyone to save anything. We are absolutely living in a "throwaway culture".

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