Post-Apocalyptic Fiction and Our Environment

By Alicia Ballard

Who doesn’t love a good sole-survivor-in-a-post-apocalyptic-wasteland story? A good high-tension story to wrap yourself in and escape reality for a few hours. Yet, we can always come back to our comforts and our stable society. Yet, if we are not careful, we may end up throwing ourselves into the same situation that our favorite survivors have found themselves in.

Novels like City of Ember by Jeanee DuPrau, The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins, and The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury are a few examples of post-apocalyptic fiction that deals with worlds where resources are few and far between. Some feature wars that have resulted from the over use of said resources. According to chart made by the Philadelphia State Government, the average American uses up to 101.5 gallons of water per day. The average toilet uses 3.5 gallons of water to flush alone, with an average of 6 to 8 flushes a day,that can be up to 24 gallons a day to toilet use alone.

According to a study by Northern Colorado Disposal, Inc. the average American causes 4.39 pounds of garbage a day, and up to 56 tons of trash per year. According to the same study, Americans throw out 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. Make Room! Make Room! Is a 1966 novel by Harry Harrison, it was the inspiration for the 1973 movie Soylent Green. I think at this point we all know what Soylent Green is made out of (if you don’t I suggest watching the movie or picking up the book, it’s pretty good).

It’s a pretty bleak outlook to think that these works of fiction could someday be our future. As humans we have to think about our planet and how we treat it. Even if the damage we cause now doesn’t affect us today, it will affect the future generations. Damage could potentially be irreversible and devastating.


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So the question remains, what can you do? Changing a few simple things in your life can help. Even if you can’t single-handedly get rid of all the plastic in the ocean, little things add up. Plastic items can take up to 1000 years to decompose, one way to help reduce waste is minimizing one-use plastics. A few alternatives to disposable everyday items are reusable shopping bags, wooden toothbrushes, refillable water bottles, glass lunch containers, silverware in place of plastic utensils, etc.

Recycling is a wonderful way to be friendly to the planet we live on, as well as composting food rather than tossing it in the trash. Chemicals can be hard on our lungs and eyes as well as the planet, try seeking out natural and ecofriendly cleaning products when possible. Purchase items with recycled material as much as possible and recycle it when finished. You can also visit your local library to use the free resources to do research on how to be ecofriendly.


Here are links to the studies listed above: