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WAE | Logo
25 Jan
By WAE Corp on "Environment"

Declutter your world: Redefine the way you live

What starts from the house castoff ends with the death of afflicted living beings! The landfill signaled by the sight of encircling birds of prey is the classic example of India's inability in managing and disposing of its waste. This article unveils how capitalist skullduggery, manipulative marketing and burgeoning throw-away culture are choking the planet with endless garbage.

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You are being watched. Everywhere you go, they are tracking your moves. They know exactly what you desire. They feed on your fear, uncertainty and doubt.  You are miserable until you buy what they sell. Above all, they make you feel that it's your own choice. That's how manipulative advertising functions.

This ‘hunt down' has got to the extent that the marketers have started using medical technologies such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to study the brain's response to marketing stimuli. This amalgamation of science and marketing is called ‘Neuromarketing". It is believed to be a more accurate measure of consumers' tastes and preferences since most of the times these feelings are ambiguous and cannot be accurately verbalized by the users. By tracking the decision making actions of customers, the marketers can directly push their ‘buy' button to swell the sales! What if in future, instead of feedback forms, customers are asked to go through the neuroscience paraphernalia? Neuromarketing will then tell the marketer exactly what the customers want. The ‘Buy-ology' (Martin Lindstrom) would soon turn Seller into King.

Secondary Packaging

While talking about manipulative marketing, let's not forget the Secondary Packaging trend. The single-use food wrapping and packaging originated in the west and percolated down to the developing world that staunchly emulates their lifestyle and convenience culture.

According to a research, customers decide within seconds from the movement they see the product on a shelf. Since they can't see the inside product, it is the secondary packaging that decides the purchase. Therefore, marketers make use of ‘visual semiotics' and attract the customers through package's ‘hidden persuasion'.

With a gradual rise in advertising scepticism, marketers tend to print unambiguous information and third-party statements with designer attributes that subliminally sooth customers' mind and develop an illusion that they have ‘rationally' bought the product. Research (Where you say it matters: Why packages are a more believable source of product claims than advertisements, 2015) demonstrates that a marketing claim printed on a package is more credible than that in an advertisement of the same product. The product-proximity makes the claim seem more verifiable and enhances the purchase likelihood. And, "thus hath the candle singd the moath" (The Merchant of Venice, 1596). The customers draw to the product like a moth to the flame.

Throwaway Culture 

The secondary packaging is thrown away as soon as the need for the product arises. Eventually, when all the products that are bought also cease in utility, people want to get rid of them.  So they dump the castoff, somewhere on the planet. The moment it is banished from our homes, we don't care about its fate, do we? The earth shall open its mystic mouth and swallow the discarded once and for all. If this doesn't sound logical to you then it's time we began contemplating over the foundation of our ‘throwaway culture' which is ‘Planned Obsolescence'

Planned Obsolescence

‘It's totalled'. How often have we started hearing this! It is an economic term meaning the cost of faulty appliance surpasses the price of procuring a new one.

During the Great Depression, consumption could not match production. With surplus inventory, idled factories and widespread unemployment the economy got down the tube. A real estate broker named Bernard London then advanced a newfangled solution to circumvent the infused thrift and frugality during the Depression.  London argued that the government should "chart the obsolescence of capital and consumption goods at the time of their production… After the allotted time had expired, these things would be legally ‘dead' and would be controlled by the duly appointed governmental agency and destroyed."

Even after the Depression ended, the concept prevailed. The capitalists didn't see it as a government program but a marketing opportunity. By the 1950s, ‘planned obsolescence' had become the central archetype in mass production with things no longer built to last. Staying in fashion and keeping up with new technology have led to the constant replacement of otherwise serviceable goods. Obsolescence has so cleverly disguised itself in the high-tech world that the ephemerality of digital goods is considered akin to innovation and not malfunction. The calculatedly reduced lifespan of various products and their skewed pricing have started a ‘goods-storm'. Overflowing landfills, swamped junkyards, inundated e-waste and the bleeding resources are repercussions of the capitalist skullduggery and its ‘Use and Throw' brainchild. 

India throwing-up garbage

From empty plastic bottles to electronic castoff, perishable waste is all-pervasive in this anthropological epoch. According to the Press Information Bureau, India generates 62 million tonnes of waste (mixed waste containing both recyclable and non-recyclable waste) every year, with an average annual growth rate of 4% (PIB 2016). Above everything, our country's growing population would mean hoards of waste at every corner each day.  The landfill signalled by the sight of encircling birds of prey is the classic example of India's inability in managing and disposing of its waste.  Once these landfills are saturated, the municipalities simply dump the waste by claiming another land. With exorbitant urban land prices, piling up garbage on the land rather than enhancing their ecological or residential utility displays the flawed system of waste disposal and management. How can we forget the flourishing garbage mafia earning seven figures each day through the right of control over these landfills and dumpyards! These dump sites when catch fire, burn through methane, plastic and other highly toxic and flammable substances. It could be showcased from the fire at Mumbai's Deonar landfill in 2016 that was extinguished ten days after it broke out.

Go Zero-waste

What starts from house waste to garbage mound to breeding mosquitoes to burning of waste to air, water and land pollution eventually ends with the death of afflicted humans and animals. Is the cost of life so little?

In India, The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) framed the new Solid Waste Management Rules (SWM), 2016 that would replace the Municipal Solid Wastes (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000. Though the new rules lag behind in adopting a decentralized mechanism for solid waste management yet it's too early to criticize it. Framing law is just the beginning anyway, execution is a colossal task. A national level awareness campaign in association with communities, NGO's, students and other stakeholders needs to be organized for better implementation of the rules. Waste management has to become a people's movement trickling down to grass-roots. 

Most of the waste is generated in the kitchens. Therefore, segregating waste in the kitchen should be the first step in waste management. Much of this waste could be turned into energy source or fertilizer. For instance, an affordable and convenient waste digester invented by a mechanical engineer (with a PhD from University of Michigan, USA) could be used by the households. It processes the wet biodegradable waste of the kitchen into biogas which is again utilized in the kitchen. Liquid fertilizer that can be used for home plants is produced as a by-product and has a separate outlet. A compost pit can be prepared at the house's backyard to produce manure through aerobic and anaerobic processes. Various reusable and biodegradable utensils are mushrooming in the market. Cloth bags are all prevalent these days. Living a waste-free life is not difficult. We just need to start by inculcating little habits like avoiding plastic bags, carrying reusable straws and reusing old jars etc. In no time, these practices would become a part of our Zero-waste lifestyle.

What if there were no rag pickers or garbage collectors? If we manage our waste keeping that in mind, the waste generated would have a minimal carbon footprint. The more we Recycle, Reduce and Reuse the lesser burden we would impose on the environment.  This way, each human on Earth would aid in enhancing the life expectancy of the planet manifold. So let's turn into urban minimalists and recycle our bins!



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