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 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?
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.
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?