OURS is a throwaway society, defined for years by an auto industry whose profits were built on "planned obsolescence." Although the car business is changing, that legacy can be seen as college students move home from campus for the summer.
Only the rare student whose upbringing or financial situation won't allow wasteful habits takes everything home from the dorm. Other students evidently have so much "stuff" or so much money that they leave behind tons of items they don't want to bother moving and storing.
The overflowing Dumpsters and barrels of still-usable goods outside dorms make clear that many young people have too much of everything except self-discipline. Instead of packing up the ironing board, microwave, and refrigerators, they just throw them away. Of course, as any parent who's ever hauled a college student's belongings to school in the fall and back home in the spring knows, it's a problem forcing all those things into a van.
But as more students leave so much of what they accumulated behind, they force colleges to send the goods to charities and try to keep local residents from scavenging through them. University of Florida officials were stunned to find working bicycles among the costly discarded belongings.
So some colleges have developed programs, such as the University of California-Davis' Resource Recovery Drive and Wake Forest's "Stop, Drop, and Go" program.
The dump and leave phenomenon happens in Ohio, too. Drive around most any college campus at the end of the term and check out the piles of usable goods.
Undoubtedly these students' grandparents and great-grandparents, survivors of the Great Depression, wouldn't understand. But this generation's parents have given them so much that they have created a generation which would rather discard than re-use.
These students are retailers' dreams, and they may help the economy in small college towns like Bowling Green and Findlay. But you can't help but wonder how they'll cope when their disposable income no longer covers all their disposable purchases.
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