Category Archives: Consumption

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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Disposability

by Gay Hawkins ‘Disposable’ usually describes minor ephemeral things from take-away coffee cups to plastic bags. More recently, it has been applied to furniture, fashion, technologies and even people. But what does it mean? The phrase ‘easy come, easy go’ captures many of the popular assumptions about disposability. Disposable items are immediately available and appear […]
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Adam Minter: In the flow of things

Discard Studies interviews writer Adam Minter, author of ‘Junkyard Planet’ and journalist for Bloomberg about his next book, ‘Secondhand’

Mapping USA electronics manufacturing pollution

The US ‘tech sector’ has been a major source of toxicant releases. These interactive maps show the chemical legacy of electronic manufacturing in the US.

Does recycling actually conserve or preserve things?

By Samantha MacBride There are a series of assumptions behind the familiar assertion that recycling saves resources and energy, and in so doing, protects the environment. These assumptions are in the motto, “recycling saves trees.” With recycling  – one assumes – used materials stand in for raw materials. This way, recycled content cuts down on […]
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Not all marine fish eat plastics

The Gulf Stream, which curves along the southern shore of Newfoundland, is saturated with plastics. Fish that feed from the surface waters, where plastics tend to accumulate, are in an ideal position to ingest plastics. But what about the bigger fish that eat these fish, especially when we eat those predators? In 2016, our laboratory […]
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What the world misses about recycling

Recycling was never just a solution to a disposal crisis, and it did not uniformly reduce total waste management costs. Rather, it addresses a range of other concerns which are equally valid but nearly impossible to quantify.

Resources for Observing and Understanding America Recycles Day

Wednesday is America Recycles Day. It’s a day that reveals the complex history of industry, consumer, and social attitudes towards the environment.