Waste is a problem we are all (the United Nations, our country, major companies, and individuals) faced with. What should we all be doing ethically to correct the waste problems we are currently faced with?
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When we think about the ethics of waste and waste disposal, we have to balance two competing interests. We have to balance our ethical duty to human beings who will live on this earth after us with our ethical duty to those who are alive now. Anything that we do to correct our waste problems today must be done with both of these things in mind.
If our only ethical duty were to later generations, it would be clear that we should stop creating waste. However, we also have a duty to people who are alive today. Providing the goods and services that these people need in order to have a good life inevitably causes waste. So, what we should do, ethically speaking, is to reduce our waste as much as possible without ruining our current economy and depriving people now living of a decent standard of living.
Practically speaking, I would argue that this involves many of the things that are already being done. We should expand our recycling programs. These programs may not be hugely beneficial in economic terms, but they do allow us to reduce waste without harming our economies excessively. We should also be expanding our efforts to come up with goods that do not create as much waste. We should continue to try to put as little packaging as possible on the goods that we make. We should make goods like LED lights that will not wear out as quickly as the goods that we now use. By doing these things, we can reduce the amount of waste that we are producing but we can do so without causing too much harm to our economy.
In short, what we should do ethically is to continue to search for as many ways as we can to reduce waste in ways that will not be harmful to our economy.
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