Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Throwaway Society? Truth Is, We Really Care About Getting Rid of Things

28.10.2005


Far from being a ‘throwaway society’, most of us go to considerable lengths to pass on unwanted household items to others, according to new research sponsored by the ESRC. And when it comes to making our mark in society, it is not just what we acquire but what we decide to get rid of that is important to us, says the study by researchers at Sheffield and Nottingham Universities.



The project examined how households in the Midlands and North-East got rid of ordinary, everyday consumer items over the course of a year.

It excluded things that can be placed in kerbside recycling bins – glass jars, paper, plastic bottles and tins - and rubbish such as packaging.


Instead, the team focused on the other items found in our homes, including electrical products, clothing, furniture, furnishings, toys, books, CDs and videos.

Researchers found that the dustbin or a visit to the local tip are merely two options amongst many when it comes to discarding the family fridge or TV, or shedding furniture or clothing which have been around for a long time. The only exceptions, says the study, are when people are moving home or carrying out major refurbishment.
Professor Nicky Gregson, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Geography, who led the study team, said: “People and households use numerous methods of ridding themselves of objects, including giving things away, selling or even quietly forgetting them.

“Of course, this is not to say that these things are not wasted by those who might receive them. Charity shops, for instance, often send for ragging the donations that they regard as unacceptable.

“But what matters more is that households clearly try to save things from wasting, and don’t waste without care.”

People get rid of objects because they become ‘pitted’, chipped, discoloured and washed-out. Equally, however, other items endure, and the durability of some makes getting rid of them harder and more guilt-ridden for their owners.

Said Professor Gregson: “Some things tend to stay around because their physical state seems to insist that they do so, and because we cannot think of good enough reasons to eject them.

“This is just as much a problem for many households as the frustrations of the chuck-replace cycle now widespread with goods such as kettles, irons and toasters.”

The report found that often it is children who force their mothers to discard things they see as embarrassing or shameful, such as furniture which is ‘odd’ or ‘old and unfashionable’.

New partners - mostly the women involved – also insist that their ‘new man’ get rid of things so that the pair can carve out their unique identity as a couple.
And people continually detach themselves from things which are ‘not me’, ‘no longer me’ and perhaps ‘never were me’.

Professor Gregson said: “What previous research there is into waste is either heavily theoretical or oriented to its management — that is, once things have actually entered the waste stream. Our research takes a step back from this, to examine just what is going on when things are wasted by consumers.

“The great variety of ways in which people rid themselves of unwanted things casts considerable doubt on the idea of the ‘throwaway society’.

“What we found was that households go to considerable lengths to save things from wasting and to pass them on to other people, both known and unknown.”

William Godwin | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esrc.ac.uk

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht The competitive edge: Dietary competition played a key role in the evolution of early primates
01.08.2018 | Grand Valley State University

nachricht Diversity and education influence India’s population growth
31.07.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

Im Focus: The “TRiC” to folding actin

Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.

Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Smallest transistor worldwide switches current with a single atom in solid electrolyte

17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation

17.08.2018 | Information Technology

Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves

17.08.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>