I always thought that others were the issue when it came to the amount of plastic waste, until I counted the amount of plastic I used in my daily life. From single use products to reusable plastic products. The first time when just counting the products I used, I counted 61 products in just one day alone. Granted, there most likely a ton of plastic that I missed. While carrying my bag around, I kept complaining about how heavy it was. Without even realizing it, I saw the problem. Around halfway through the day, the bag was completely overflowing with plastic items. It had gotten so full that I had to get another bag… And that bag filled up too. These items are oftentimes not even given a second thought when thrown away.
Disposable face mask
Shampoo and conditioner
Sadly, these items are used for getting ready alone.
Unfortunately, College of Charleston does not have a recycling program. While they do have separate bins for compost, landfill, and recycling, they all end up in the same place. When I was in the dining hall, I watched them empty each of the separate bins into the same bin. It’s upsetting to see organizations that have the funds to recycle, but they do not. If enough of us have this conversation, things will change.
I do believe that this was an accurate representation of my daily life. Being a college student, it’s hard to afford eco-friendly products. The prices of eco-friendly products are much higher because plastic is the cheaper alternative. Since I have been in college I feel that I have been using much more plastic than I do at home. Everything I own is basically made of some sort of plastic. It’s cheap and easy to throw away when you are done with it. Being in college, you are always on the move. Most days I don’t have time to sit down and eat. I usually grab a plastic water bottle and a plastic wrapped granola bar.
So many things are made of plastic that we don’t even realize. I find it ironic learning about plastic on a plastic computer, on a plastic desk, sitting on a plastic chair, even the clothes you are wearing are made of plastic. Plastic is surrounding us. When calculating my plastic footprint, I found out that I alone leave a footprint of 50.3 pounds a year. While that is less than the national average of 110 pounds a year. That’s around the same weight as a baby hippo!
Before taking this class I had no idea I used so much plastic. I truly had no idea that some of the things I owned were even made of plastic. I believe that if everyone gets educated, we can be the change the world needs. Instead of asking what you can do to change others actions, what actions are you taking currently to help solve this problem?
If you are interested in this topic more, I recommend checking out this website. It has tons of information on our plastic footprints and what we each can do!