• What is rubbish? • What is ‘value’? – The notion of value
• Consumer Society – What is consumer society?
• Wastefulness – How much waste is thrown away each year in the UK?
• Affluence – The rising affluence in the UK
• Thompson’s Theory – The three different categories of objects or ‘rubbish’ and what they are
• Stevengraphs – How Stevengraphs had risen and fallen in value over time
• Junk Art – How an object can go from no value to something that is valuable and how it is made into artistic statements
• Environment – How rubbish is affecting the environment
Conclusion: Paragraph 5
• Outline what has been discussed
• Link with the question – rubbish is not worthless
TMA 02 – Outline the argument that rubbish is not worthless
Rubbish can be seen as something that is worthless, that needs to be thrown away because nobody wants it, because it has no value; “the notion of ‘value’ can take on different senses. Sometimes ‘value’ refers to the usefulness of something” (Brown, 2009, Pg. 105).
Social scientists focus their studies on society and the way in which people live, this is known as consumer society, which rubbish plays a bit part in. Consumer society is a term used to refer to a society which is defined as much by how and what people purchase, how they use them and how they are disposed of. There are many classifications of rubbish created in a consumer society which can come from a variety of different sources, from household, retail, businesses and factories. There are three different types of rubbish that are collected from our households; green garden waste, non-recyclable and recyclable. There is no value to be gained from non-recyclable rubbish, as this costs man hours to deal with the waste, and uses valuable landfill space. However, for household recyclable waste that is recycled, the values in a consumer society are numerous. Rubbish is mainly made up of waste, such as unnecessarily throwing away food or leaving lights on unnecessarily. The Food We Waste report (WRAP cited in Brown, 2009, pg 106) ‘presents evidence that as one third of the food bought in the UK each year is thrown away – about 6.7 million tonnes of food.’ The amount of household rubbish had risen 28 percent in 2006/07 and this increase was the result of a number of factors, one being mass consumption. Alongside mass consumption there has been rising affluence in the UK which can be seen every day as it is possible to afford a higher standard of living. A proportion of total household income is spent on necessities but with rising affluence more people now tend to spend their income less on necessities and more for the inessential items and luxuries, although a necessity may be a luxury for one person, even where they have the same income. With rising affluence people can afford to buy more products and to replace them more frequently but now supermarkets are selling more products with a lot more packaging that has to be disposed of. People’s time and labour also come into account because they become more highly valued and repair services for household goods and appliances have become more expensive so it becomes cheaper for the owner to just throw away that item and buy a new one.
Michael Thompson argued that there three different categories of objects which he explains in his ‘Rubbish’ Theory. These are objects produced for ordinary use, which Thompson classes these transient because their value tends to fall over time with use; A ‘rubbish’ category of virtually zero value, which would be worn out clothing that nobody would want to wear and broken mobile phones; and a durable category whose value increases over time, such as works of art and collectors’ items. These objects may be produced for either the transient category or the durable category and when