Waste Not, Want Not by Bill McKibben: Analysis

Topics: Thought Pages: 5 (923 words) Published: November 13, 2014
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Aaron Archer
English 100 MW 1- 3:20
Essay #5
“Waste Not, Get Not”
In “Waste not, Want not” Bill McKibben argues against our excessive hyper consumerism and suggests a “return to the frugality of simpler times.” He offers that we can either hang onto the status quo of Costco size living or instead go to a retro post-waste living style. While McKibben may be correct that our American materialistic thinking can be the cause of unnecessary simple waste such as disposable products and outdated technology, he is too overzealous in his thinking. There is a fine line between simply wasting materials and food for no reason, and putting them to good use to either enhance or maintain our style of modern living. McKibben wrongly defines his idea of “waste”, in which he included people wasting their life for a cause that isn't his, and technological achievements in our quickly advancing world. McKibben is wrong, these do not define as waste, but instead freedom to do as you please and progress for our species. Hyper consumerism is not a terrible thing if it is pushing developers to produce superior and more efficient technology. Countless items are discarded everyday, most people do not really stop and think to see if they can recycle an item, or donate it to an organization that can give it to someone who will appreciate it. This is the simple waste that I agree with McKibben should be processed, spared for later usage, and re-consumed, if not used at all. McKibben describes a man named Chris

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Jordan who is the “photographer laureate of waste,” Jordan recently executed a project that projected astonishing numbers of simple everyday waste that is unacceptable and dumbfounding. A few of the numbers he ran out were “ The 106,000 aluminum cans Americans toss every 30seconds, or the 1 million plastic cups distributed on US airline flights every 6 hours, or the 426,000 cellphones we discard everyday.” While these are only a handful of the examples it is still evident that this kind of wasteful thinking needs to change. Instead of throwing away used devices try donating them. Instead of using plastic cups and bottles try using a washable container. Instead of using plastic bags at grocery stores bring your own and keep re-using them. One mans trash is another man’s treasure is something smart to think before you throw out an old cellphone or something you do not need anymore. I know it may not sound convenient now, but it will be worth it when our earth is still thriving years from now. The little waste is what needs to stop. Mckibben mentioned that “A hundred million trees are cut every year just for the junk mail industry.” This is a perfect example of what needs to be discontinued, pointless waste that has no benefit for our country, world, or economy. It is simply the greediness of big companies and unaware citizens that are damaging our earth and crushing our ecosystem.

Although McKibben had a good understanding of simple materialistic waste, his notion that intellectual people should go into a field of study that could possibly benefit our species instead of doing what they love or want to do is outlandish and selfish. He states about the formentioned statistics “These kinds of numbers get in the way of figuring out how much we

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really waste,” and then out of nowhere turns combative towards Harvard graduates claiming, “In recent years, for instance, 40% of Harvard graduates have gone into finance, consulting, and business. They had just spent four years with the world’s greatest library, some of its finest museum collections, and unparalleled assemblage of Nobel-quality scholars, and all they wanted to do was go to lower Manhattan and stare into computer screens. What a waste!” Let me ask you this McKibben, who are you to establish what individuals are suppose to do with their lives, and who says these Wall Street warriors are not going to push new environmentally friendly companies stocks to...
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