Behind the Haze of Gray

Gazing out the translucent glass of a mountain top sized apartment upon the haze of graying dew I discover the world we inhabit. A world of lust and riches abound that the very touch of a human hand can obliterate the delicate forces surrounding us. Each breathe we breathe is that of one which encompasses the bounty of our being. It is life sucked from us as we step into the world loud men shout out our supposed path to take. Our decisions are forcefully ripped from our consciousness and given to those with power and prestige. What once was has gone and what we are now we must be.

We are a society of copious consumption that engulfs our every being. From behind every eye lies a mind filled with desire and a heart longing for meaning. We stuff bags to the brim as we desperately cling to the material that holds us together. From behind those eyes is a life of defeat. A force so large that tells us every minute that we need these things to find contempt. But when I look out at the haze of gray all I see is a world once with beauty filled with the product of our greed.

Every face is silently telling a story of what their life is meant to be. A woman gallivants through the corridor with crimson heeled shoes as she delicately tosses her hair in the breeze. Her hair falls around her face enveloping the time and space that our time meets. But all I see is a façade covered in glamorous things that were produced in lands filled with dirt and debris. I see a family dependent upon the sullen face of the mistress to meet their every need. When all they want is a place to sleep that is not filled with the dark dismay of a life surrounded by misuse. Once more I succumb to the suffocation of the gray haze.

The neglected ideals that are thrown away as a human exists upon a once grassy land are but a fading memory as decades pass away. A once glorious landscape destroyed as we look through the fading eyes of the world. A farmer’s field laden with chemical laced dew yet the government says it’s nothing new. Food is food to feed the world through animals get more pristine patches than what lay upon my plate. The forces that drive the weather are soon dictated by the hand of man to meet our every need. When weather was once a delicate ebb and flow to sustain the life of all it held. No longer does it have control as it contests with the exploitation of man.

Darkness I worry has touched the hearts of many to envelope the way we see the world. A dotted line filled with empty promises drives society through and through. This mountain top I call my home holds no life but that of a hope for something new. With every check that is cashed comes contemplation of what defines me. I am torn by the world of gray that holds me down to frivolously consume. The haze outside is getting darker and I fear I am too.

But as I peer through the haze there becomes a story told of new; a story that views the mass depletion as a way to know me too. I see my things before me as if they all were true; that every bought and purchase has meaning in itself. That very material I was bore from does not have to define me. The world is wrapped in silk and linen but why must I too? Is it not for their benefit that I do as they do?

Consumption lies upon the insightful compromise of oneself to the acceptance of others. The very core of a being is engulfed by the melancholy approval of their defeat. That someone must suffer an ungrateful death to bear the material wrapped around us. The liquid that once brought life carries promise of extinction from the unending want of man. From behind the blindfolds and mounds of trash we see the burials we are holding when we chose a path of greed. We bury those that had no choice with our own disconnect to the earth. In with every purchase that we make creates an unending desire of self-worth.

Waste is but a word that man created to say, “I want more.” It is a proverbial decline in value of a resource we once knew. A resource we take for granted as we thoughtlessly consume. There was a time before the gray haze of our world that man loved what he knew. That the sacred ground on which he lay provided for his every need. The water fell upon his feet to quench his soul anew. That all he once needed was to know what to do. Somewhere on this path he faded and this is where we meet.

I say to you that man knows what he should do. But all along this path are enticing possessions abound. The way he should take has no direction nor does it hold promise of fame. What it holds is a life devoid of all the pain. When riches are before you and you strike them down, you will find the leverage to devoid this contaminated ground. Because as you stand and gape as far as you can see the only thing before you should be who you want to be. Then forth from this gray haze our society could be.


Global Waste

Global waste is projected to increase by 70% by 2025. With this rise come increased costs of disposal, less land space to dispose of it, and health risks. Our world is becoming more populated each day and the majority of the growth is in urban areas. Urban areas have high density populations with little storage space forcing people to toss things instead of keeping them to reuse.

With the world hitting its peak in population, we should start to see waste decline due to necessity. The rate at which this declines is mainly determined by the amount of reduction cities are willing to embrace. Some cities already have goals in place like San Francisco’s zero waste by 2020 campaign and Kawasaki, Japan diverting 550,000 tons per year into reusable or recycled materials. Some policies that promote these things are fees on disposal, limitations to what you can dispose of, and markets offering more sustainable products.

Waste levels are the highest today at around 1.75 million tons per day but populations aren’t growing as quickly and waste reduction efforts are underway, are likely to see their trash levels peak by 2050 and then start to decline. Asia-Pacific countries won’t peak until 2075. How soon Sub-Saharan Africa’s waste increase peaks will determine how soon the world’s trash problem begins to decline.

A few countries are leading the waste management movement: India, France, China, Brazil, and Lebanon. India has implemented more laws and criminalizing people who dump or burn waste in undesignated areas. France has mandated that supermarkets cannot create food waste; rather, they have to donate food that is left over or unwanted. This system is encouraged by having a large bulk food selection so people can choose the amount of food they want/need. In Shenzhen, China is the home of the largest waste to energy facility that is able to incinerate 5,000 metric tons of waste per day. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, trash was not previously collected in buns but just tossed across the landscape. Boats have been hired to collect trash 8 hours per day and investments have been put into creating waste management facilities and treatment plants. Lebanon faced a disaster as the only accessible landfill was closed. This sparked debate and 3 landfills were opened to temporarily divert the trash until a better solution is found.

As you can see, the waste management goals are very different from country to country and even city to city. You find places that are attempting to go zero waste while others are looking to have a contained area for trash. All in all, the trash needs to go somewhere whether this means creating a better system to deal with it or by consuming less is what the future will have in store for us. To create a sustainable world, not piled with trash, action must be done whether people want it to or not. We will see in the coming years who steps up to the challenge and who is left picking up the pieces when it comes to waste.

Why do we have so much stuff?

Materialism is a key factor influencing waste worldwide. To understand the materialistic concept, we must first look at standard of living.  A standard of living is not an easy thing to measure as it is more about the perception of the life the individual has. The higher the standard of living the higher the perceived quality of life there is. When materialists experience dissatisfaction in life from non-material things, they tend to turn to material things to cope. Their goals turn from a need basis to a “I feel I deserved this” basis. Much of the ideals that materialists experience are related to their relationships and social expectations they experience. Material can mean things like wealth, status, and make or break a relationship for them. If someone has more possessions, it is seen that they have more money or a better life than another individual. This leads to over-consumption as others try to exude their status to compete with the one above them.

If we are in this vicious cycle of buying things, how do we know when to stop? Well, we don’t. We go, go, go, until we get to the top and then what? Ride it out? Spend more money? Buy more things to “make us happy?” Research has shown that no matter how many possessions you have, money you make, and how big of a house you have, your quality of life may be worse than a person living in a hut in the middle of a dessert. There are so many things we try to cover ourselves in: food, jewelry, fancy clothes. But those all have a much greater cost, an environmental cost and a mental cost. Not only are you draining your bank account, you are depleting the earth’s resources, and depleting your mental state.

Every impulse buy is one strike against Mother Nature. You don’t need that product, what you really need are relationships. You need a network of support and a reason to live rather than for status, wealth, or beauty. 20 tons of waste is produces per ounce of gold causing water, soil, and air pollution. Are those earrings worth harming the ecosystem? Is your perceived misfortune the reason our capitalist economies decide to keep selling us things we don’t need to be happy?

People across the globe are living on no money to millions of dollars. To compare a person making nothing to a person making a million dollars, you will see distinct differences in clothing, appearance, and hygiene. What you won’t see is the quality of their life. The person with no money may be the happiest person on the planet and has nothing to show but his attitude. Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it certainly buys us more trash. From small to large, purchases made globally eventually end up in landfills to sit and decay for centuries. Whole livelihoods are built around making things for consumers from factories to facilities where people can search out enjoyment. What if the solution to this waste was not to find sustainable material for the product, rather find a sustainable mind set change? Go from a place of needing things to finding solace in a peaceful walk or talking to a friend. Imagine to depth of changes that would be made if it was that simple to change a mindset from “I need” to “I have all I need.”

Live simply. The key point I am trying to get across from my quaint life is that you don’t need to surround yourself with things. You don’t need 20 pairs of shoes to be happy, you may only need two to play a crucial role in your life. Living simply is shifting your mindset from I want this and this and this to…I can live with just this and this is all I need.

See, once you get rid of the things, you leave yourself open to feel what is happening. You open your mind as you discover that if you buy less food, you feel better, if you watch less TV, you have more time to read, think, and dream. When you have that time to dream, there is no telling where your story will end.



Sirgy, M.J. Social Indicators Research (1998) 43: 227. doi:10.1023/A:1006820429653

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