Rubbish Has No Value

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Essay Plan

• Introduction, explaining what rubbish is? Explaining what assignment is about.

• One - wastefulness and affluence, how this affects rubbish, consumer society

• Two - Thompsons Theory, recycling (one man’s trash is another man’s treasure), Jordan’s Junk art.

• Three – Stevegraphs/supply & Demand

• Four – environment and rubbish

• Conclusion, do not introduce any new material!! Sum essay up. Remember word count and references.

‘Rubbish has no value’. Identify the arguments for and against this view.

It can be argued that rubbish is a thing that has no worth; it is what nobody wants, it is disvalued, so it is worthless and has zero value (Brown, 2009, p105). ‘Value’ can be a complex term. Items have value because people value them. What is rubbish to one person may have value to another. Rubbish is seems can be quite contradictory! Throughout this essay it will be argued whether rubbish does in fact have no value. Your immediate thoughts on rubbish might be something straight forward like an empty crisp packet, you have eaten the crisps inside so now the packet is surplus to requirements and has no more use; it is now rubbish has no value and will be disposed of. But rubbish covers more than just this. There is also wasting, uneaten food is wasted, televisions left on standby is wasted electricity.

Rubbish is the invisible part of consumption, the growth of mass consumption due to rising affluence and prosperity has contributed to the increase of rubbished produced. The rise in disposable income has allowed us to buy goods easier than ever before, this in turn has caused a huge rise in the manufacturing of consumer goods. We are living in a consumer society, it is now cheaper to replace goods rather than repair, and we have become a throwaway society. In 1983/84 the amount of household rubbish per person was 397 kg, in 2006/07 this increased to 508kg (Brown, 2009, p107). With this rise, the amount of rubbish we produce as a nation, for example packaging, outdated and broken items. These discarded items may no longer hold value to us as an individual but provides a lucrative business for the waste disposals business and recycling plants. It is not just household rubbish that is a problem, rubbish from shops; businesses supermarkets, manufacture, construction and agriculture cause a greater proportion of rubbish (Brown, 2009, p134)

Michael Thompson wrote a book ‘Rubbish Theory: The Creation and Destruction of Value’. He categorises objects into three:

• Transient objects which are planned for ordinary use and their value fall over time for example clothing and mobile phones

• Rubbish which is items like worn out clothes obsolete phones, these items has zero value.

• Durable items are items where the value increases over time, such as works of art and jewellery. (Brown 2009, p122)

Objects are produced for either transient or durable categories, items can move from transient into durable via the category of rubbish and are then revalued. Items lose and then gain value. An example of this would be Stevengraphs, silk woven pictures popular in 1828-88, many were made and sold but by the middle of the twentieth century they had become unsalable. It was during the 1960’s and 1970; s they were again being sold and as collectors’ items for vast amounts of money thus making them now an item of value. Their increase in value can be attributed to their aesthetic revaluation. The aesthetic judgement of the few caused the Stevengraphs to be revalued. Consequently there are items that can only be described as rubbish with no value which will end up at land fill. Other items start life with value but over time due to the changing fashions and improvements in technology they lose value and there are items that start life with a relative normal value lose their value and then increase value. The value of items can also rise...
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