When I woke up today and started collecting my plastics, I anticipated the numbers to be very similar to the first experience I had to tracking my plastics throughout the day. The first time I tracked the plastic objects I used throughout the day, I had about 40 different plastic objects in total. The bright side from that was that only about 5 of the plastic objects were single use. The results of tracking my plastics today was much different though. I payed much closer attention to what I used that is plastic based, but only ended up with roughly 25 objects, much less than I thought I would get by being more aware of what I’m using. The main cause for this is the fact that I did not play hockey today. Almost all hockey gear is partially made of plastic, so not having to come into contact with my gear today saved me about 7 objects. Other than this, the majority of my day was pretty similar to what a normal day looks like for me, which is why it was surprising to still get a lower number.
Many of the objects I used today were also reusable. The only non-reusable things I used were food wrappers. The fact that food wrappers are widely used though can provide some worry for the world. With how much packaged food is sold in grocery stores, large amounts of this packaging is most likely not being recycled and ending up in our environment. I was also caught off guard by the plastics that I found in unexpected locations, such as the gym. I never realized how much of the gym equipment is made of plastic, these things mainly being bands, the covers for metal weights, and the various machines.
While I do not think that there is a dedicated recycling facility in the area around College of Charleston, I do know there are many compost areas and recycling areas. As good as it may make us feel to put our waste in these, as we learned in class, these small bins do not help much. For waste to compost in large volume, the waste needs to be in a large area with heat and oxygen for the bacteria to work, but the composters on campus only allow for a small area and volume, and there is no true way to know if this waste is transported to a larger composting location. Single stream recycling bins, like the ones on campus, also produce many problems. In an article written by long time environmental reporter Jacob Fenston, he goes over how much of this recycling is actually contaminated. In a visit he took to a contamination station, he stated that, “…it’s as if for every nine trucks that dumps a load of recycling, a tenth truck pulls up and unloads nothing but trash,” (Fenston, 2019). This may not seems like much, but when you try to put into perspective the amount of people in the world all producing roughly 4.5 pounds of waste per day, this scenario seems much more tragic. So although there are the small areas for recycling, there is no true way to know how much is recycled after it is sent off.
Finally, Beth Terry says, “Guilt is not encouraged.” I agree with this because if you feel guilt and force yourself to feel guilt, you will focus too much on it and ruin your life. Therefore, I believe that we, as in the whole population, should strive towards not drastically changing our lifestyles, but being more aware about our waste and how we deal with it.
Fenston, Jacob. “Does Your Recycling Actually Get Recycled? Yes. Maybe. It Depends.” WAMU, 5 Dec. 2019, wamu.org/story/19/02/12/does-your-recycling-actually-get-recycled-yes-maybe-it-depends/.