Many people, including myself, like to think that small gestures like using reusable water bottles and straws are making some sort of significant impact on the well-being of the environment. Although those are great adjustments to make in your everyday life, is it really enough?
I totaled up all of the plastic items that I touched in one day and the results were incredibly eye opening. A good bit of the items on the list are deemed “single use” and go straight to the landfill soon after. The worst part is, I’m sure there are several items that I forgot to list because we are so careless and it’s become so normalized. Stepping back and listing all of the plastic I’d touched really put into perspective how much damage one person can do in a singular day.
Several of the items I listed that can easily be replaced include:
- Ziploc bags
- Plastic silverware
- Plastic shopping bags
- Plastic water bottles
- Plastic straws
Every single one of these items are things that play into my life almost everyday and over time it seriously adds up. They all have reusable substitutes that will be more environmentally friendly, but will also save lots of money in the long run.
The great thing about going to a school like the College of Charleston is that the school offers several ways for students to recycle and do their part in the community. That leaves it up to the students to take advantage of those resources and to make those environmentally conscious decisions for themselves. A big problem that I see is the student’s lack of knowledge on where to put what materials when recycling. When students get confused they tend to just throw everything away instead of sorting through it or trying to figure it out. I think having labels on the compost/recycling bins that clearly state which materials go where would help students significantly.
Beth Terry said “Guilt is not encouraged” which is a really powerful statement when discussing a topic like plastic consumption. To me this means that no one should feel guilty in areas where they want to make change. In today’s world, the use of plastic is pretty inevitable so you shouldn’t feel bad about things you can’t control. That being said, if you want to make a difference then do it in a way that works for you and your lifestyle. These changes can look different for everyone, so it’s all about your intentions and how much change you’re expecting to see in your life.
Like I previously stated, it’s pretty sad to say that the use of plastic in today’s world is inevitable, but at this point it’s the reality of this day and age. That’s why it is so incredibly important for us to make as many changes to the way we live our plastic-filled lives as we’re able. We can’t stop the effects of plastic on the environment, but we can do everything in our power to slow it down.