Article Alert! Eleven recent publications in discard studies
The fear that human consumption is causing climate change, biodiversity loss, and mineral scarcity has recently prompted interest in reuse because of the intuitive belief that it reduces new production and waste. The environmental impacts of reuse have, however, received little attention—the benefits typically assumed rather than understood—and consequently the overall effects remain unclear. In this article, we structure the current work on the topic, reviewing the potential benefits and pitfalls described in the literature and providing a framework for future research. Many products’ use-phase energy requirements are decreasing. The relative importance of the embodied impacts from initial production is therefore growing and the prominence of reuse as an abatement strategy is likely to increase in the future. Many examples are found in the literature of beneficial reuse of standardized, unpowered products and components, and repairing an item is always found to be less energy intensive than new production. However, reusing a product does not guarantee an environmental benefit. Attention must be paid to restoring and upgrading old product efficiencies, minimizing overspecification in the new application, and considering whether more efficient, new products exist that would be more suitable. Cheap, reused goods can allow many consumers access to products they would otherwise have been unable to afford. Though socially valuable, these sales, which may help minimize landfill in the short term, can represent additional consumption rather than a net environmental benefit compared to the status quo.
Using plastic pollution as a case study, this article shows how the material characteristics of objects – their density, their size, and the strength of their molecular bonds, among other traits – are central to their agency. The author argues that it is crucial to attend to the physical characteristics of matter if we, as researchers, are going to describe problems and contribute to solutions for ‘bad actors’ like pollutants. Plastics and their chemicals are challenging regulatory models of pollution, research methods, and modes of action because of their ubiquity, longevity, and scale of production. This article investigates how scientists researching plastic pollution are attempting to create a new model – or models – of pollution that account for the unpredictable and complex materialities of 21st-century pollutants, and how the Anthropocene has come to be a shorthand for our material understandings of moral transgressions, cherished boundaries, and good citizenship.
Environmental issues are often neglected until a lapse in the care for environment, which leads to serious human health problem, would then put regulation gaps in the spotlight. Environmental regulations and standards are important as they maintain balance among competing resources and help protect human health and the environment. One important environmental standard is related to municipal solid waste (MSW). Proper MSW management is crucial for urban public health. Meanwhile, the sustainability of landfills is also of concern as increasing volumes of MSW consume finite landfilling space. The incineration of MSW and the reuse of incinerated residues help alleviate the burden on landfilling space. However, the reuse of MSW incinerator residues must be regulated because they may expose the environment to toxic heavy metal elements. The study of environmental standards from different countries applicable to MSW is not widely published, much less those for incinerated MSW residue reuse. This paper compares extant waste classification and reuse standards pertinent to MSW, and explores the unique recent history and policy evolution in some countries exhibiting high environmental regard and rapid changes, policy makers can propose new or revise current MSW standards in other countries.
Tracing material and metaphoric waste through the Western canon, ranging from Beowulf to Samuel Beckett, Susan Morrison disrupts traditional perceptions of waste to better understand how we theorize, manage, and are implicated in what is discarded and seen as garbage. Engaging a wide range of disciplines, Morrison addresses how the materiality of waste has been sedimented into a variety of toxic metaphors. The vibrancy of matter itself disturbs these metaphors, especially those used to characterize people as disposable garbage. If scholars can read waste as possessing dynamic agency, how might that change the ethics of refuse-ing and ostracizing wasted humans? A major contribution to the growing field of Waste Studies, this comparative and theoretically innovative book confronts the reader with the ethical urgency present in waste literature itself.
This analysis of the cover images of a collection of 300 Cinderella picture books published between 1800 and 2014 reveals marked trends in the manner in which Cinderella has been portrayed on those covers, and a corresponding switch in the dominant message visually communicated to children by these books. Early books depicted Cinderella most often in her downtrodden state, dressed in rags, but most modern-day picture-book covers show Cinderella as an elaborately dressed beauty, reveling in her magical transformation into a visual spectacle, in the pinks and purples of contemporary ‘princess’ marketing. Thus, through Cinderella’s visual depiction in these children’s books, the meaning of ‘Cinderella’ has shifted from a model of virtuous humility for young women to emulate to a dazzling display for little girls to consume and imitate.