Plastic is Surrounding us.


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


Tooth bush 

Shampoo and conditioner

Hair brush 

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!

Plastic Life?


59 This is the number of plastic objects I touched in one day. It would be even more if I had counted the items, I touched more than once. Furthermore, I probably also touched a plenty of objects that I was not even aware that they were made of plastic. In Today’s world we literally sink in in plastic so that we do not even notice any more if we touch a plastic object. So, it was with me, before this self-experiment I was not even aware that so much in my life consists of plastic. But after the first hour of my self-experiment, I was shocked because I had already touched about 25 plastic items in the first hour of my day and I also realized that almost everything in my bathroom is made of plastic. At the end of the day, I realized what a huge amount of plastic I had touched in one day.

I have divided my plastic items in different categories so I can better evaluate my result:

1. Electronic devices=7 items     examples= mobile, laptop charger

2. Bathroom products=20 items     examples= shampoo, toothbrush

3. Food=8 items     examples= yogurt cup, muesli package

4. Study Supplies=10 items     examples= pens, block

5. Sport= 5 items     examples= Ball bucket, gym bag

6. Other things= 9 items     examples= Laundry bag, cleaning rag packing

After evaluating my list of plastic items, I noticed two categories in particular where I could reduce my plastic consumption the easiest and that is Bathroom products and Food. Because especially in these categories, I used a lot of disposable plastic items, which is why I collected all single-use plastic items on another day. After the experiment, I came to the conclusion that almost all the items were in the categories (as already suspected) Bathroom and Food. And I would also say the disposable plastic items I collected that day reflected my disposable plastic use well

My Disposable Plastic in one day

  And after thinking about it, I also came up with ideas on how to reduce my single-use plastic consumption. However, I also realized how difficult it is to implement some of them in the US.

One example from the Bathroom category is to use solid shampoo, shower gel and toothpaste which is packaged completely plastic free or even a bamboo toothbrush and hairbrush are good alternatives which are usually only a few dollars more expensive than the plastic ones. Another example, which unfortunately can hardly be implemented in the USA is to shop in plastic-free sections of supermarkets, especially for food, or in completely plastic-free supermarkets, which have been around for a few years in Germany. However, after research I noticed that there are hardly any such supermarkets in the USA.

Despite some ideas, it is difficult from my point of view as a student to greatly reduce his plastic use. For example, in the dining halls there is a lot of plastic used, where it is relatively difficult for me as a student to avoid the plastic there. Another problem is that the plastic products are usually easier to get and cheaper than plastic-free products. Another point which I consider problematic is the possibility of recycling, because I find there are hardly any opportunities to use recycling facilities and if you want to find some you usually have to spend a lot of time on the subject, although there are isolated recycling garbage cans on campus, but I have the feeling that it is not taken so seriously.


But even after the self-experiments with the shocking results for me and the many problems that I became aware of I do not feel guilty and think that you should not feel guilty too. To deal with the topic in depth is already a start and it has motivated me to reduce my plastic footprint and to go more consciously through life.

Sleeping Among Plastic

My plastic consumption is something I am not very proud of. Before this class, I would only pay attention to things like where I bought my clothes, bringing reusable cups to places like Starbucks or the dining hall, and trying to avoid using straws. This was the extent of me being a “conscious consumer”. Ever since I began this class and started reading Beth Terry’s book Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too, I have changed my perception of what it truly means to be conscious of my consumption. Before taking this class, every time I would bring a reusable cup to Starbucks or avoid buying from places like H&M or Forever 21 I would give myself a pat on the back however, when I have purchased my bedding, room decor, or have gotten my acrylic nails done I would feel unphased about my plastic consumption. I have since learned that although I try to avoid single-use plastics when I am shopping, multi-use plastics are truly my downfall. 

Over the past few days, I have been pretty sick which has limited me to staying in my dorm and leaving for the occasional City Bistro trip. Thus, I haven’t had the same interaction with plastic items that I normally would’ve on a healthier day. Brainstorming this post in my bed has led me to think a lot about the things around me. Looking up, I see fairy lights and tapestry which both contain plastic components. On my bedside table, there’s a lamp, diffuser, water bottle, AirPods, essential oil bottles, remote control, pill bottle, stuffed animal, and masks which all contain plastic. As I inspected my room for all of the plastic I started realizing that the majority of my room contains plastic. My “conscious consumption” that I had previously mentioned hardly even matters when comparing that to the plastic I have in my dorm. Although most of these plastic items in my room won’t be disposed of any time soon, they eventually will end up in a landfill after my college graduation or sooner. Unfortunately, after analyzing my room, this is in fact a very accurate representation of my lifestyle and plastic footprint. I have become conditioned to the consumer lifestyle where I care more about the aesthetic of my living space and less about where the things in my living space are coming from. In the photo below I have numbered out all of the items containing plastic in a corner of my dorm room.

As someone who claims to care a lot about the environment, I personally don’t do the best job following through with it. Like I mentioned before, I try to stay away from single-use plastics if I can, shop for my clothes second-hand, and avoid using plastic straws, but is that really enough? I try my best to educate myself and others around me on the little, yet still important, things we can do to help reduce our waste. Like Beth Terry has mentioned in her book “Guilt is not encouraged”. Because of this quote, I would like to remind the reader and myself that there is always room for improvement and even if we can’t personally see the difference we are making right now, it does have a larger impact than we know. 

Plastic Ties

I don’t want to sound like someone that has no hope for the planet, but plastic is inevitable.  Plastic is everywhere, and if you look up from your computer right now and take a look around, I’m sure you will be able to spot at least 5 items of plastic.  Even your computer contains plastic in some way.
I try to be as environmentally cautious as possible, but after logging all the plastic I touch in a day, I was truly shocked. I had 74 items, mostly synthetic but reusable, luckily.  Things like Tupperware, the handle to my dorm washing machine, tv remote, and the rubber is the soles of my shoes are all items that will last for an extended period of time.  Some items just aren’t able to be reused or recycled though.  In the bag of trash I collected throughout the day there was 5 items: 2 food wrappers, a paper cup (containing a plastic lining inside), a gatorade bottle cap, and a dryer sheet. I even collected this plastic trash in a bag made out of plastic, ironic right?
Trash collected throughout my day. Food wrappers, cup, dryer sheet, gatorade cap
I think this image fairly represents how much plastic I dispose of in a single day.  This amount of trash may seem small in scale of the whole earth, but imagine if every person on the planet collected this much trash in one day, for 365 days a year throughout their whole lifetime. That’s a lot of trash.
One main thing I have learned about my lifestyle over the past few weeks is the food industry needs a revolution when it comes to packaging.  4 out of 5 things in this picture are related to food and drinks, and were simply disposed of at the end of my day on Sunday.  There was no way to recycle or reuse these items.  I wanted a snack, and had to sacrifice the planet to enjoy the food I love.

Beth Terry states “Guilt is not encouraged”, but when thinking about it, maybe guilt should be motivating.  No single person has a way to get rid of all the plastic on the planet, but you hold the power to minimize the plastic in your every day to day life.  I think being able to see my waste from just one day just laid out on my dorm room carpet quickly made me realize that I have the power to leave a lasting impact on the Earth, and whether it’s a good or bad impact is up to me. When walking into a grocery store, I will begin to examine what I buy more carefully.  More cardboard and glass; less single use plastic and packaging in general.

I am lucky to attend a college that has a big focus on sustainability and contains recycling bins at almost every corner I turn, but what about the people that don’t have access to this? One thing I think is important about wanted to make an impact is increasing the accessibility and convince of recycling.  Many people don’t have the facilities to recycle items at, and I think this is a big drawback when it comes to an individual’s efforts to reduce their plastic footprint.  How much work and far would you be willing to go to make sure one plastic water bottle ends up at a recycling plant and not your local landfill?

Rise of Plastic

Throughout the day September 6th, 2021 I kept count of every plastic item that I touched during my normal routine. Throughout the day I came in contact with 42 items that were made of some form of synthetic plastic, although I probably touched more that I did not realize was plastic I honestly thought I would have touched a lot more than 42 items. Many times throughout the day I had to stand and contemplate whether or not an item I was holding had any form of plastic on it. 

After the initial day of collecting everything made of plastic I encountered, I began to keep every plastic item I had that was disposable. I found myself throwing anything from a straw wrapper, to a nice plastic bottle into a bag that would slowly accumulate over the course of 24 hours. Throughout that course of time I ended up using a total of 24 disposable plastic items, and initially I thought that was not a lot, but once I laid them all out to get a picture that is when it struck me. We go through plastic like it is nothing, and the fact that 24 items took up nearly half of my carpet is outstanding, we just think of it as nothing more than a passing breeze. 

Taking both days into consideration it would seem like I use a lot of plastic based items. Now I don’t believe this one day is a good representation of my lifestyle as a human being, as both days I recorded my data on I was particularly busy, so I was naturally going through a bit more resources than I normally would. Reflecting back onto these two days though, it really strikes me how much plastic that is in our lives that we don’t even realize, and as well how little of it can be disposed of sustainably.

Comparing both days of collecting, if we assume that I would have gathered around the same amount of disposable plastics on that day, then during that first initial day I would have encountered approximately 18 non-disposable plastic items. Some of these non-disposables can still be recycled, but they require more specialized facilities to process them, and sadly I do not have easy access to said facilities in order to put them back to good use. 

At the end of the day however it is important to remember what Beth Terry once said, “Guilt is not encouraged”, and from this quote we don’t need to feel bad for using plastic items in our lives. Most of us are fortunate enough to live in a country where plastic luxuries are common, and we just have naturally begun to blend these items into our normal lives; to where we think nothing of them. You can make a change in your life to try to use less plastic, but don’t feel guilty over using some, with the world that we are living in currently it is rather hard to avoid the use of plastic. Just remember to try and take a few extra steps and maybe buy that biodegradable cups, or learn to wash your own utensils in order to not need plastic utensils; any change matters no matter how small.

Wasting Away

When we first started to write down each plastic item we have touched throughout the day, I was amazed the see how much it turned out to be. We never really put much thought into it, but plastic is all around us. I learned in class that our world has 32 million tons in landfill and still counting. I’m even typing on something made with plastic right now. Plastic has become the easiest and cheapest thing to create nowadays. But that doesn’t mean it’s not harmful to us in other ways. The way we use plastic now is crazy and since it is everywhere and not biodegradable, the plastic trash has filled up the landfills to their point where we need to do something about it sooner rather than later.

Comparing my Bag of disposable trash to my day of things I’ve touched really taught me a lot. I buy or have lots of food or drinks that just end up going into the trash when I am finished. Especially in college, I have a lot of snacks during the day because sometimes I just don’t have time to stop and have a full meal. So, bringing a bag around with me and filling it with all the disposable plastic has shown me how much just one person throws away like its nothing. But it is something. I learned through this process that we need to find better alternatives to plastic. The videos that we have watched in class really showed me that some people are trying to make an effort in finding alternatives better fit for our environment. For example, we package all of our mail away in plastic and for what. That trash gets thrown away right when it gets delivered. But one company found that there is a way to make packaging from a type of fungi that is biodegradable and is better fit to slow down the plastic pollution. In another video there was man who made a type of plastic like material out of Chitosan and Silk. That’s shrimp shells! It’s crazy to think of all the things we could use that’s better for the environment. Instead, our world goes for the easy option. The cheap option. We need to be able to start thinking more about the future and how much we are damaging our earth with not even a thought about it.

Our college does have recycle options in the dining hall, and we do use biodegradable cups. But most people don’t think and just throw it away in the landfill. This just proves my point that people are not putting effort into saving the planet. Plus, in our dorms if we want a recycle bin in our rooms we have to walk to another building and personally ask for it. Most people think of that as too much of a hassle, so they don’t end up getting one and throwing their recycling away into their trash. Personally, I think that people need to stop being lazy about recycling because in the next generation people are going to be suffering from a lot of our mistakes including our plastic footprint.