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.

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