• Excessive… but not wasteful? Youth cultures of everyday waste (avoidance)

      Collins, Rebecca; University of Chester (SAGE, 2019-08-26)
      This article contributes to ongoing debates around the cultural production of waste by arguing for a clearer distinction between concepts of ‘waste’ and ‘excess’, and by suggesting the benefits of this distinction for tackling the perceived consumer-cultural waste ‘problem’. Drawing on recent qualitative research with UK adolescents I consider how a range of (youth/consumer) cultural drivers, social norms and moral imperatives shape young people’s everyday material consumption practices in ways that reflect (and produce) varied ways of (de/re-)valuing no-longer-wanted possessions. By exploring the cultural projects within which the young participants and their material possessions were engaged, and by identifying their aims in employing specific keeping and ridding practices, noteworthy differences between ‘waste’ and ‘excess’ materialise. I suggest that the drivers of the ‘excesses’ identified – characterised here in terms of ‘outgrowings’ and ‘hedging’ – highlight a set of distinctly cultural challenges to be met if the slippage of materials from ‘excess’ into ‘waste’ is to be averted. I contend that acknowledging these challenges, and these conceptual distinctions, may prove beneficial in attempts to address some of the societal challenges (e.g. material novelty as a driver of social status) related to the production of waste.