Rubbish Has No Value

2 February 2017

TMA02: “Rubbish has no value “ In this essay i want to discuss and analyse rubbish and it’s value. Rubbish has been described as something with no value, however value is a complex term and does not complete a clear picture of rubbish. To define rubbish clearly I want to discuss the relationship between rising affluence and consumer society and how they have produced more rubbish. Also what rubbish means to different people and who are the winners and losers in the mass generation of rubbish.I will also look at the sustainability of affluent societies, its effect of the environment and why negative externalities should be but are often not considered in the valuation of goods. Using Thompsons theory of rubbish(1979) and Baumans theory of consumption (1988) i hope to provide a detailed analysis of the pros and contra for the argument that “ Rubbish has no value “ To discuss rubbish and its value we need to discuss consumption and how and why consumption has grown in society.

In contemporary society people are not longer solely defined by what they do but more so by what do they consume.Consumption has a huge part to play in socialisation in term of what things we consume say about us and how we are trying to portray ourselves also. A question that was often asked when someone met someone new was “ What do you do ? “ , more so now the question is “ What are you into ? “ . ( Hetherington , 2009, p. 23 ) Generally people consume to define who they are but also some consumption is out of necessity for generally day to day living. E. g once a car was seen as a luxury but now for some it is a necessity for work.

Rubbish Has No Value Essay Example

Bauman’s theory of consumption (Bauman, cited in Hetherington,2009, p. 25 ) talks about the seduced and the repressed in contemporary Western consumer society. People in a high affluent consumer society have more disposable income and can consume more to portray a social status of themselves and others. These people are known as the seduced and they are large consumers and produce the most waste and they are generally the winners in today’s society . They are seen to be valued in society and are socially included and have a valued identity.The opposite to which is they repressed whom consume less are often socially excluded and have devalued identities. People can move in an out of these groups depending on their income and circumstances.

Advertising and social norms put pressure on people to become part of the seduced group whom consume more. Women entering the work place, households having dual incomes, the rise in the supermarket whom have low cost items allows people to consume more on smaller incomes and the decline in repair services are all factors in the rise of consumption and therefore more rubbish is produced.Now that we know some of the reason why rubbish has increased in modern society we can look more closely at the value of rubbish. I opened this essay saying that rubbish is often referred to something with no value. Rubbish sometimes can go from being worthless to being of worth again. We can use Thompsons theory ( Thompson, cited in Brown, 2009 p. 123 ) to examine this .

Rubbish can be often seen as something offensive or not wanted. Take for example household waste , it has to be disposed of or it would cause offence.General house hold waste is worth nothing to an individual , however to a company who collects this waste and gets paid to do so is big business. Not only are they providing a service but are also recycling some of the raw materials to be reprocessed. To a household plastics and glass are worthless, however when a company deals in such huge numbers it is worth their while to process. So like the old saying what is one man’s trash is another man’s gold. Recycling increased from 1 % in 83/84 to 31% in 06/07 per person per year in the UK .

( Defra, 2007, Table 4 , cited in Brown, 2009 , p. 17 )A modern example is the mobile phone say an older model that is relatively worthless, there are ads on tv like Mazuma mobie with it’s slogan “ Money for your old phone , Mazuma mobile. com “ Obviously this firm is able to succeed in a viable business by providing a service of buying old broken mobile phones. We at home cannot dispose of them in a bin legally and they would be left around otherwise so this is a win win situation for Mazuma and the consumer. In this example we see how something is worth something and nothing at the same time.Thompson’s theory categorizes objects in three sections as follows. Objects planned for ordinary use have transient value as the value tends to drop over time, e.

g mobile phone. Then a category of virtually zero value e. g a broken mobile phone and lastly a durable category whose value increases over time e. g art , jewellery and collectors items. ( Thompson , cited in Brown, 2009, p. 122 ) Thompsons theory shows how an item can sometimes move from a transient value through zero value and move onto to become a durable value item.This shows how something can turn to rubbish or zero value and come out the other side over time to a valuable (durable) item which is not considered rubbish.

E. g maybe a painting from an artist who is not famous at time of the sale of the painting and over time society dictates the market price for various reasons such as supply and demand and fame of the artist. Clearly shows here something that was once rubbish or zero value is now of value. Obviously not all items go through this phase and it would it very hard to predict what items do for various reasons but majority would be disposed at zero value stage.One undervaluation of rubbish i want to look at is the environmental cost of affluent society on rubbish and the sustainability of modern society. Negative externalities such as environmental costs are often not considered in the value of goods produced and what happens them when disposed of. If this externality was considered the price of items would go up considerably due to the environmental costs of rubbish.

Affluent countries are often the winners in rubbish disposal as they can pay poorer countries with less environmental laws to dispose of their rubbish.However greater education on recycling has been in effect for years now and we are recycling more than ever. We should follow the example of ROHS (Restrication of Hazardous Substances) payment that is paid on purchase of items on tvs , computers etc . . ( www. epa. ie , RoHS Enforcement GuidanceDocument ,Version 1 – issued May 2006 ) If these costs were paid on food items and general items more focus and money would be spent on disposal of waste and how we can make it safer and sustain our environment.

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