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Disposable Soil This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

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     Today’s society is becoming increasingly disposable. Just look around - there are disposable cups and cutlery, cameras, cell phones, diapers, even mops and toilet brushes! If we expect to keep our environment somewhat clean for the next generation, we have to take immediate action or future inhabitants may live on a mountain of trash.

With a world population of over six billion people, it is more important than ever to be sure we conserve our finite resources. In our era of electronics and technology, we produce more goods for single or short use. Although this may be wonderful for the money-making companies and consumers’ convenience, it is unhealthy for our environment. We are overproducing at a significant rate, depleting our resources faster than we can replenish them.

Why make items disposable? Such products are usually easy to use, less bothersome, and can be created cheaper than their permanent counterparts. For example, a disposable camera is easier than dealing with clumsy spools of film and heavy cameras, and disposable dishes and dining utensils make clean-up easy, but these convenient items add up. Each person in the United States creates approximately 1,600 pounds of garbage each year. Landfills are filling up, and we are simply running out of space to store waste.

Americans are the leaders in world trash production, which means we should strive to be the leaders in recycling and conservation. But that is only half the battle. Other than buying non-disposable goods, using items made from recycled materials (or a high percentage of recycled materials also known as “post consumer content”) is also important. If we use these, we will not deplete our resources as quickly.

One major question remains: Why is there so much waste? Among the many reasons, the world population is increasing exponentially, stressing our waste management systems. Only a few generations ago, products came in minimal packaging, and leftover food was composted or fed to pets. It is now cheaper to buy another toy or electronic item than repair it. Finally, many drink containers (like milk bottles) used to be refilled, rather than used once and then trashed.

Fortunately, there are ways to get around this “epidemic” of disposable material goods. Using available recycling facilities, we can deal with this huge influx of refuse. Conservation efforts are under way to help prevent damage to our environment, and to help replenish our consumption of resources. Using non-disposable items would be a great way to help. Even the smallest endeavor can have a great effect.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the March 2005 Teen Ink Environment Contest.






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