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Earth’s Overdrafting Fees

September 27, 2011

In the banking industry, when someone with a checking account writes a check that exceeds the funds in said account, there is an overdraft that incurs some sort of fee.

It turns out that humans have already overdrafted their bank account in 2011 with the Earth’s resources by consuming more than what our planet can replenish and absorb in terms of the waste byproducts.

Unlike the banking industry metaphor, we cannot simply asses a fee on humankind for overdrafting its checking account. Instead, we have to learn to consume natural resources within the Earth’s “ability to regenerate resources and absorb waste.”

The problem–as I see it–lies within our economic system, capitalism. The need to capture higher and higher profits has transformed many companies into ones that make products with a higher turnover rate. Thus, we are becoming a society that replaces products at a faster frequency rather than use them for a longer duration.

Just this morning, I was reading about how a certain television brand, the second-largest brand in the US, found it more cost effective to buy a new television rather than repairing it. This message to consumers is alarming because it encourages people to replace products–taking more resources from the Earth, while adding more waste to it–instead of recycling or reusing them.

Another alarming trend I’m seeing with this type of wasteful consumption is in the smart phone market. I have noticed how smart phone makers are releasing a new model annually. Sure the new phone has a couple of new gimmicks here and there, but it sends the message to scrap the old phone in order to purchase the most up-to-date one.

If we do not want to overdraft on the Earth’s resources anymore, then we need to work together as humans to stop this unnecessary overconsumption. I think we should start by changing our attitudes of wanting the most recent gadgets and encouraging the spirit of repairing, reusing and recycling. If we do not change our behavior, I fear one day we will write a check too large to cash. And no matter how large the overdraft fee, we will become insolvent and our planet will never recover.

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