A Society of Excess

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A Society of Excess



Once upon a time, there was little to recycle, and people gave their well-worn linens and clothing to the ragman, who sold them for a few cents for a bundle. 


Good woollen items were resized for young men and boys, coats for girls, and nothing was thrown away.  During the depression, flour sacks were made into shirts and blouses. People had two outfits, one for work and one for church if they were lucky.


Now, we live in a society that encourages excess.  We have outfits for every occasion and activity that we do.  This is encouraged by online shopping and the availability of credit.


Materialism has become an addiction.  Holidays that used to be sacred such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, are now opportunities to shop for bargains. 


We are brain-washed into thinking we need all this by advertising, pop-ups, and subtle cues on the internet.  We think we need the silverplate and extravagance in everything.


Now, how do we dispose of all this excess when we have grown tired of it? Ideally, we will give it to a charity, for a second use. The textiles are of such poor quality, it is not worth the time and energy to alter, remodel, and reuse within the family or neighbourhood,


We encourage swap meets, hand them to others in need, but there is still much that is unfit, is of poor quality, and what do we do with these items?



Photo byEtienne Girardet onUnsplash


We’ll have to find a way to recycle it.  In the United States, much of the excess can be recycled. Only 15% of textiles are donated for reuse, and much still goes into the landfill. In one state alone 96,500 tons of textiles are disposed of. This costs taxpayers $5.7 million in unnecessary disposal tipping fees at $60/ton. 


The material makes up about 4% of the state waste stream. It is  Connecticut in this case. It includes 74% of textiles from residential sources and 26 % from non-residential sources. We must learn to recycle in a manner that is cost-efficient and can benefit the community’s needs. 


Almost all items can be recycled. Obvious is clothing, but textiles including bedding, backpacks, curtains, towels, stuffed animals, gloves, belts, ties, handbags, shoes, slippers, undergarments and even holey socks. Items that can’t be sold as-is, can be used for rags before use for recycled fibres. 


We need to rethink the volume of that which we really need and curb the amount of debt we accumulate, by thinking about what we buy and buying items that will last for many years instead. 


We need to think about our needs and stop trying to “Keep up with the Jones”.  How much money can we save for something that is REALLY important to us?


We should not let materialism become a leisure pastime and an addiction. The planet will thank you for your common sense. 



Shirley Langton 2020


Submitted: November 29, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Shirley M. Langton. All rights reserved.

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