With the global population is at it’s highest and the ease of industrial production increasing, it seems, by the day, the generation of waste is on the rise. Forecasts predict massive increases in global waste, from 3.5 million tons per day to 6 million tons in 2025. In the United States alone, the amount of waste has gone from 88.1 million tons a year in 1960 to 245.1 million tons in 2013 according to the EPA, a 188% increase2.
In comparison with more advanced economical nations, those of lower economic status generally generate less waste. Despite comprising little over 26% of the urban global population, the high-income class contributes 47% of the waste generated each day3. By relation, frugality - restrained spending and material usage - is regrettably a concept tied to a lower economic status. While consciously chosen, frugal lifestyles exist, it’s seemingly simpler to reduce resource usage and value possessions when operating on a tighter budget.
Frugality is not purely contingent on income status. It can be learned, and practiced with the intention of combating the growing problem of waste threat with the goal of living a more sustainable, environmentally conscious life.
“Today, frugality continues to be a radical virtue, yet a virtue that receives a growing attention from the religious and secular alike,” writes Wioleta Polinska in her In Defense of Frugality: Insights from “Green Contemplatives” across Traditions think piece. “This is due to the spreading ecological deterioration, the increasing gap between the poor and the wealthy, and the mounting dissatisfaction with life among the well-to-do… Scholarly voices from diverse disciplines point out that restraint in our lifestyle choices is necessary to ensure sustainability for all life forms and the planet itself.”4
1. "Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: Facts and Figures." EPA. Environmental Protection Agency. Web.
2. "Waste Generation." Urban Development Series – Knowledge Papers. The World Bank Group. Web. <http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTURBANDEVELOPMENT/Resources/336387-1334852610766/Chap3.pdf>.
3. Wioleta Polinska. "In Defense of Frugality: Insights from “Green Contemplatives” across Traditions." Buddhist-Christian Studies 35.1 (2015): 147-161. Project MUSE. Web. 23 Dec. 2015.