Category Archives: Consumption

Copyright on the Farm

In 2015, tractor manufacturer John Deere made waves for sending its dealers a letter asserting that when farmers repaired their own John Deere equipment, what they were really doing was violating US copyright law. At the time, this came as news to a lot of farmers: as a characteristically self-sufficient community, they’d always repaired their equipment on their own. How did putting a computer on a tractor change this?

Miss Tampon Liberty

In the 1980s, when menstruation was generally considered taboo, artist Jay Critchley made art out of discarded plastic tampon applicators washed up and collected on local beaches. With no idea what the items were used for, Critchley could not have known that his curiosity would lead to a decades-long quest to understand and improve issues surrounding menstrual product waste.

Waste and Recycling in Cold War Eastern Europe

This short study analyzes the professional and political discussions of post-industrial and post-consumer waste, discards and recycling in state-socialist Hungary and connects these discourses with the changing cultures of waste, discards, and recycling around the globe.

Taboos around menstruation are leading to a growing environmental crisis in India

If the disposability of menstrual products is not prioritised as much as their accessibility, India could be dealing with mountains of discarded waste products in less than 50 years.

On Wishcycling

Wishcycling is the process of placing discards into the recycling bin even when there’s little to no chance for their recovery. The term entered common use over the last six or so years. But its usage and meaning have changed over time.

Agbogbloshie: Dumping no more

Agbogbloshie is a part of an emergent globalised scrap economy that links peripheral markets to global metal flows. In this post, Dagna Rams argues for the need to pay closer attention to the flow of recuperated metals out of Agbogbloshie.

Sending surplus food to charity is not the way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

While giving food that would otherwise go to landfill to hungry people may be a convenient part of a solution to reduce greenhouse gases, it will do little to ensure the well-being of the four million Canadians who are food insecure.

Myths of the Circular Economy

Discard studies spoke with three leading waste researchers about the biggest myths of the circular economy.

No insides on the outsides

“The main goal and mission of a content moderator is to clean up the dirt.” — unnamed content moderator in The Cleaners (00:06:20). All systems must rid themselves of things. If they don’t discard, those systems face existential threats to their continuation. This is a fundamental insight of anthropologist Mary Douglas’s work and a core […]
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The Tragedy of the Tragedy of the commons

A Twitter essay by Matto Mildenberger (@mmildenberger)   Something I’ve been meaning to say about The Tragedy of the Commons. Bear with me for a small thread on why our embrace of Hardin is a stain on environmentalism: we’ve let a flawed metaphor by a racist ecologist define environmental thinking for a half century. Hardin’s […]
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