Drowning in Plastic


Quite literally, we are drowning in plastic.  It makes up the majority of items we touch in our day-to-day life.  Plastic is in our food, our ocean, our streets, and about anywhere else you can think of.  According to the website, Future Agenda, it is said that 275 million tons of plastic waste is created each year, and between 4.8 million and 12.7 million tons of that plastic waste is intentionally dumped into our oceans.   This plastic problem is not going away anytime soon.  Saying this, I reflect on what I can do to slow the intoxication of our only livable planet down.  This brings me to our class assignment, making note of all the items of plastics touched, and reflecting on what isn’t necessary, or can be replaced in my life.



Out of my 45 items counted (although some items touched were definitely missed), some items I found to be wasteful and replaceable were:

  • Gum

Yes, only listing gum is on purpose.  After looking through my list, thinking about which items are not practical to my lifestyle, I could not find much.  Things like a tampon are pretty necessary to women.  Other items such as my leg wrap and medical tape for my torn ACL are also quite practical, and not very replaceable.  Items such as my face wash bottle and chapstick tube are replaceable in exchange for the products in glass bottles, but far to expensive for my means.



The area I think I can make a difference is informing people about the effects of things so small like drinking out of a plastic and disposable water bottle everyday, rather than a reusable one.  Things like buying reusable food containers instead of using one-use plastic baggies.  Being more aware of the plastic you are quite literally consuming is a great place to start in this battle against plastic.  A big thing I’ve also seen is spreading around the knowledge of how to recycle items that are recyclable.  As Beth Terry says, “guilt is not encouraged”.  I do not believe the way to go about solving this plastic problem is to shame people for their behaviors.  Instead, encourage people to live cleaner for the health of themselves, and for the health of our planet.




Handcuffs Made of Plastic

Although I’d like to think of myself as a young, environmentally conscious, organic, Gen-Zer, today’s experiment proved me wrong. After evaluating the number of plastic items I had touched for Journal entry #1, I thought “Wow, that’s kind of a lot! And even after talking to my classmates, I didn’t even hit the tip of the iceberg of what I missed…” So that’s why today when carrying around a bag full of disposable plastic items, I was pressed on seeing the true extent of what I missed the first go around.

Well, by about 10:30 the bag was already overflowing. I was shocked but also slightly annoyed that I still had to keep adding to this bag while being forced to lug it around the rest of the day.

Things I found in the bag at the end of the day:

  • plastic bags(from convenient stores and small plastic baggies)
  • plastic cups(solo and clear)
  • plastic straws
  • food containers/wrappers
  • plastic cutlery
  • plastic plate
  • water bottles
  • cup of noodles
  • sanitary items (tampons/pads)
  • Q-tips
  • candy wrapper

There was so much more I had collected by the end of the day, but these were some I chose to highlight because I feel many college students use these on a daily basis.

While I feel I collected my own weight in plastic today, I know this is not an accurate representation of my lifestyle. I think I use more plastic than I had found while conducting my experiment. I feel as if someone were collecting all the single-use plastic I usually use on a daily basis, the findings would be quite different. This is because I feel subconsciously I was always somewhat thinking about the experiment. My total plastic footprint is definitely larger than I had originally thought and this has made me realize I need to make a more conscious effort to make choices that are more environmentally conscious.

However, this also made me realize that there are not that many viable options for college students to live that way easily. I feel there’s little access for college students to get information on recycling facilities, let alone to use them. And even though some places at the College of Charleston claim to recycle, do we really know if that’s what they are doing with it?


After this whole experience has ended I have learned a couple of things. I learned that 1. There is a huge problem with disposable plastic items and how frequently they are used in our world. When in reality do we really need them to be that expendable when they are not even biodegradable? 2. Being environmentally conscious of your plastic footprint got a lot harder once I go to college. Many of the things I took for granted while living at home are now things that would be far too expensive and just simply not viable. Also, the outreach for college students (who probably have a very large footprint compared to the rest of society) is just not there and it should be especially when it’s as easy as offering to recycle.

Finally, I learned that we are truly in plastic handcuffs when it comes to saving the environment. Looking at the life I live now I don’t know how we are going to get the country, let alone the world, on board with this minimal plastic idea. How do we stop what’s already here? How do we get rid of an item that we physically cannot break down? Where will all of these items go? How will we replace them in a capitalistic society? After reflecting on Beth Terry’s words I do not feel guilty about the plastic chains I just feel liberated to break them. But how will that translate to a world where our hands are figuratively and literally tied with plastic? That, I do not know.