Progress can be wasteful

Did that statement make you pause?

But when we look at the incredible progress many of the products we rely on daily thanks to technology advancement – like our cell phones – one could quite easily argue that progress has become more wasteful, not in the sense of material advancement, but in our consumerism behaviour.

The pace we live and work at today compared to even 30 years ago is markedly different. More, better, faster tends to be the mantra of today… it’s an easy trap we all fall into, myself included. I too get bedazzled at the new features of the latest smartphone, even if there is nothing wrong with mine and to be quite honest, do not even use all the shiny features available to me now. But that new phone with multiple cameras still made me pause and consider and rationalize with myself that it is a necessity. Then I snap myself out of it and remember that pragmatism tends to prevail when it comes to consumerism.

Appreciatively, the definition of wastefulness is subjective, but it does touch on the first R of the 5Rs – refuse, which is then followed by reduce, reuse, repurpose and lastly recycle. What do each of these Rs mean to you? For me, when I think of wastefulness from a consumption standpoint, I find myself first looking at my own behaviour rather than the material.

I would love to hear about something you’re doing today to be less wasteful.

Ed Gugenheimer
CEO of Alberta Recycling Management Authority

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