Waste-creation in our consumer society begins by devaluing what has been, or is still being, possessed or used. The value once associated with ‘owning’ some object or service is withdrawn, for a variety of reasons, often influenced by marketing or social competition, and then attributed perhaps to something else. Re-valuing waste will be fundamental in a circular economy.
Barriers to prematurely discarding or replacing goods have steadily fallen in recent years. Easy credit, low prices, instant online access to goods and services, continuous technological change and a 24 hour promotional media, all reinforce the ‘state of mind and way of life’ we now call global consumerism.
While much effort has gone into researching and implementing successful technical strategies for reducing waste and emissions through greater efficiencies in many domains, accelerating rates of consumption are undermining the positive impact of these efforts everywhere. While mainstream economists, corporations and governments may fear the consequences of a ‘slow down’ in our hyper-consumption, others have begun to look for different ways to change behaviour and reduce over-consumption and waste.