The world of plastic.

Growing up I always used plastic but never kept track of how much I used nor did I know how bad plastic can really be.  For 24 hours, I have kept track of what I have touched that are made out of plastic materials. Even the disposable items I have used. Some of these items include:

  • plastic water bottles
  • Ziploc bags
  • disposable coffee cups (k cups)
  •  body wash(container)
  • garbage bags 
  • mechanical pencils
  •  drink cans
  •  dish cleanser
  • toothpaste
  • toothbrush
  • hair comb
  • mouse(computer) 
  • keypad(computer)
  • gel pens
  •  calculator 
  • plastic plant
  • eyeliner packaging
  •  plastic bowls
  • plastic utensils
  • plastic cups
  • some of my clothes
  •  many food wrappers

(Disposable items I collected from one day in the picture)

Because I have had a pretty repetitive day since I have come up with a routine for myself,  I use the same amount of plastic from day today. This includes most of the disposable plastic I have listed. I learned that disposable plastic I use can vary from time to time because I don’t go out every day but when I do I notice I use a lot of plastic. I also noticed that I dispose of a lot more plastic than I do with plastic that isn’t usually disposable. I also learned that many of the things I touched, I didn’t realize that they were made out of some type of plastic. It definitely shows that more and more things are made with plastic and most people don’t realize it. Even me.

Compared to my total plastic footprint using disposable plastic can differ. With disposable plastic, I am only using it once and then getting rid of it. With usual plastic items, especially the ones I have never realized were plastic, I continue to use them over and over in everyday use. Most people would usually get rid of disposable plastic and not reuse them. Unfortunately, I have done that many times. 

While living through this experience,  I’ve also noticed that when moving around on the outside of my dorm I touched more plastic items than I did on the inside of my dorm. I feel like it also depends on the day. The first day I kept track of the plastic, I didn’t touch that much because I was in my dorm all day, but when I walked around outside and even went to my classes I touched a lot more plastic. Obviously, I touch and use a lot of plastic as most people do, but I feel like depending on the day and what I do each day, also has an effect on how much plastic I use or touch. 

I definitely want to try and reduce the amount of plastic intake I use. I also want to know more about where I can put the plastic after I use it. I have noticed that around campus there are a lot of trash cans that are labeled, trash, compost, and recycling. I have been using that to my advantage and making an effort to take care of the plastic that I use. I have also learned that there are many ways that can help decrease your plastic footprint. You can carry your own reusable cloth shopping bags, compost food waste to reduce your use of plastic garbage bags, recycle, look for clothing made from natural fibers and shoes that don’t contain plastic, and educate other people to maybe try and do the same. (Priesnitz) .


When reading Beth Terry’s book as well she says in her book that “Guilt is not encouraged.” I definitely agree with her because having too much guilt in your life, especially with using plastic, can have a bad effect on your life. Instead, try doing things from here on out to try and change things for the better. 



Priesnitz, Wendy. “Twenty-five ways to reduce your plastic footprint.” Natural Life, Jan.-Feb. 2013, pp. 22+. Gale In Context: Science, Accessed 17 Sept. 2021.


The Terrifying Reality of Plastic

Sakshi Kaikini

While going through my days, I never actually realize how wasteful I am. I go through my days using plastic utensils and throwing them away later simply because I’m too lazy to to wash reusable utensils. But is my laziness adding to my plastic footprint  and actually making a negatively impacted difference? Yes, yes it is. While I was collecting the disposable items I use throughout one day I was astonished by the amount of plastic I use once and throw away.

A majority of the disposable items are thing I use on the daily. For example:

  • plastic utensils
  • plastic plate and bowl
  • q-tips
  • individual flossers
  • ziploc bags
  • plastic water bottles

Every single one of these items I use on the daily and throw them away when I’m done using them. Some of these items can be reused, but they’re so easy to get and replace, your first instinct is to just throw it away.

I don’t think this one day of seeing all of the plastic materials I use accurately represent my plastic footprint because it’s only one day out fo every single day I’ve lived. Every single day I do something different and use different things and some days I use more plastic materials and some days I use less. This differs from my plastic footprint because my overall plastic footprint is a lot more than what I used in one day and it involves a lot more plastic materials.

As I walk around campus I don’t think there is a certain location dedicated to recycling, which is really unfortunate for our schools. Although throughout various buildings we have small bins saying what to throw where, usually students either don’t know where to throw something or are in a hurry and throw recyclable things into the trash. These eventually end up in landfills and then drift away into our oceans and lakes and whatnot, affecting wild and marine life in a negative way.

The ocean is swimming in plastic and it's getting worse – we need connected  global policies now

College of Charleston needs to implicate more recycling centers so we can efficiently recycle our plastics. In our dorm halls there is no place to recycle anything. There are only big trash bins on every floor and even if you have a trash bag full of recyclable stuff you have to throw it away because there’s no where else to dispose of it. As I sit here I am just incredibly disappointed because this is our world, our Earth, and us humans are ultimately limiting out years on Earth. We’re affecting ourselves, animals, our future and everything in between. Although we’re only  a small college on the coast of South Carolina, there’s about 15,000 people here to be accounted for. If every person only used one piece of plastic a day, that would still be 15,000 pieces of plastic going to the trash EVERY DAY. Myself, I used about 35 pieces of plastic in one given day and for me to not be able to recycle it in my dorm room because I don’t have the ability to is incredibly sad and frustrating.

Recycle Bins: Types, Colors and How it Helps the Environment | Conserve  Energy Future

When looking Beth Terry’s ‘Guilt is Not Encouraged,’ although we should try and limit our plastic use, comparing ourselves to others is only going to make it worse. All we should focus on is bettering ourselves rather than focusing on how your plastic use is doing compared to someone else.

Diving into Plastic


As an amateur fossil collector and diving hobbyist, I have always enjoyed the marshlands and streams that cover coastal South Carolina. Whether I’m fishing, kayaking, or diving there is no other place I would rather be than a tidal creek/river in South Carolina. Although I have been diving and fishing in the marsh for a long time, I never considered how large my plastic foot print could be. For years, collecting crab floats and other interesting garbage that washed up onto Pickney Island was my favorite past time. After major storms, huge patches of sticks (dead spartina grass) and garbage would collect in inlets. At low tide I would search the shoreline of the islands for crab floats, life jackets, fishing supplies, boats, dock pieces, and anything else that was interesting. Looking back on it, nearly all of the stuff I kept was made of plastic, and so much of what I didn’t keep was also plastic. The crab floats are made of some sort of polystyrene as they are a white hard foam. The life jackets were most likely nylon and a different type of plastic foam. My kayak is a hard semi transparent plastic. The garbage, mostly plastic water bottles, containers, and foam could cover shorelines at times. I have seen first hand the plastic foot print of cities like Hilton Head, so its about time I start examining my own.

The Plastic I dispose of.

Most of the disposable plastic items I use when diving are plastic water bottles and zip lock bags. They are handy for keeping small fossils safe and keep our food and water clean. Everything on the dive boat eventually turns brown due to the tannic acid in blackwater rivers. Its handy to just throw away food and water containers instead of having to clean them constantly, especially since I usually get back home at 10pm. I also use drum liners to collect gravel to sort later. These are a basically massive plastic (2 feet wide, four feet long) bags and are super tough. I usually throw them away after I use them since they get punctured by sharp gravel pieces. I use about 13-14 plastic water bottles, 5 zip locks bags, and 10 drum liners every diving trip.






I think this day is representative of the amount of disposable plastic I use. The only other disposable plastics I use often I are food rappers and plastic containers such as peanut butter jars and milk jugs. I don’t enjoy eating at restaurants and like to cook my own stuff. I don’t interact with most of the disposable plastic that has ingratiated itself into our consumer economy. I don’t bother recycling since most of it ends up in a landfill anyway, my motive for not using disposable plastic is to avoid taking the trash out.

The plastic I use.

Although I use quite a bit of disposable plastic, I think its important to examine the massive amount of other plastic items I used that day that were not thrown away. Every piece of my dive gear had some sort of plastic in it. Every single one. Whether it be the neoprene wet suit, gloves, and boots. The dive knife, regulator, BCD, helmet, light, fins, dive computer, etc.. When I scrape against rocks or dig into the phosphate nodules for fossils, small plastic particles are being released into the water. The plastic we use can have a foot print even if it has not been disposed of yet.

The Harsh Reality

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
  • Straws
  • 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.


Plastic All Around

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.

Works Cited:

Fenston, Jacob. “Does Your Recycling Actually Get Recycled? Yes. Maybe. It Depends.” WAMU, 5 Dec. 2019,


When I began my 24-hour plastic recording journey, I knew that my list would be rather long. I use plastic for everything, we all do, especially in college. Our parents send us home with leftovers in plastic containers, we use plastic plates and forks in our dorms, we eat our snacks from plastic bags. We are all guilty of using plastic in everyday life. However, the number of plastic products that I used and recorded during my study was astronomical.Spicoly Plastics - South Africa's Leading Plastic Products ...

Throughout my day, I recorded everything I touched or came in contact with that was made of plastic. Many times throughout the day I wrote down items that I had never even noticed were made of plastic. Things such as the refrigerator handle, the wheels on your chair, or the light switch are not items you automatically associate as plastics, but you use them daily. I found myself coming into contact with so many plastic products that I did not want to write them down anymore. I started to feel guilty in the realization of how much plastic I truly use. By the end of my 24- hour study, I had almost 100 different plastic products written on my paper!

I never could have imagined that I use that much plastic in one day. I felt extremely guilty about how much I have been contributing to the earth’s declining health. The next morning, I decided that I would be more conscious about the plastics that I use. I redid the 24-hour study to see how much I could improve my own habits in one day. Again, I recorded every plastic product that I touched; however, this time I only used plastic products that were essential to me. These products include items such as pencils, phones, chairs, etc. By the end of that 24-hour study, I had decreased my plastic use from almost 100 products to almost 15 products.

After the two study days, I decided that I would continue using less plastic and I would try to be conscious of how often I use it. I am now making it my personal goal to use less plastic and be a better human to the earth.


Plastic Life

Plastic is everywhere, it surrounds us 24/7. We eat it, we touch it, we even smell it and while we may not know it, we are probably never going to be able to get rid of it. I never really thought about how much plastic I used every day until I was told to keep a list. Not going to lie I was kind of scared because I knew that I used a lot. My list consisted of thirty-eight items. I was blown away by how long the list was, but when I went to class and heard my classmates sharing theirs, I realized I forgot to put various items. From things like a light switch to the hat I was wearing that day. My list probably could have gone up to around 70 or 80.


Over the span of the past week, I have been very sick and because of this I have been using more plastic than ever. I have been getting food delivered to me for every meal and drinking a lot of plastic water bottles. As I’m sitting here writing this, I think about ways I can limit my plastic use, and while there are things that I can do to help, it is very hard to live a so called “plastic free life”. I look around, while I sit in my dorm room and almost everything I see is made from plastic. I know these items aren’t single use plastics and I can use them for years, but at some point they are still going to end up in the trash.

In the bag of trash that I collected throughout my day it added up to 10 items, well 11 if u include the bag, I used to carry these items how ironic. It was a plate, 4 cups/bottles, food containers, etc. I think this is representative of my lifestyle. Especially being in college and having the bad habit of eating out every day I do use lots of plastic. If I were to use around 9 disposable plastic items every day that would add up to around 3,000 items per year. That’s a lot. From this I have learned that I need to be more conscious of what I buy. Now most of the plastic problem comes from the food industry, which is understandable because how else are you supposed to package food? This school is supposed to be a sustainable school but as far as I have seen it really isn’t. In my dorm room there is no way to recycle anything. Everyone just dumps their trash downstairs. Now if I really wanted to, I could probably drive somewhere to get it recycled. Even when I go to the dining hall there are separate bins, but it all ends up in the same place.


Beth Terry stated in her book “Guilt is not encouraged” this is something everyone should go by. If you are guilty about the plastic, you are using you will never be able to overcome it and fix what you are doing. Overall, I think that this was a good learning experience. I thought that I knew how much plastic I was using but it turns out I really didn’t. I feel that now I have way more knowledge than I did 3 weeks ago, and I feel as though I can limit my plastic use.


Plastics Everywhere

I started this blog on September 14. I had a lot of classes that day so I thought it would be a good day to start my blog. This assignment was to write down each plastic that we used throughout the day. I didn’t expect To use as much plastic as I did. When I think of plastic I think I was plastic water bottles, plastic plates, plastic bags, and plastic straws. I never thought about toothbrushes and toothpaste and stuff like that. I never realized how much plastic there is in this world until this assignment. It’s really hard to not use plastic because it’s so easy and it’s so cheap that it’s the best thing to use. In the 24 hours that I did this assignment I touched 38 items.  At first I thought that wasn’t a lot but then I realized that a lot of the stuff I kept touching repeatedly. If I counted every time I picked up a pen or pencil I would have over 100 items.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle are Important to the Students of Learning Haven -  Gallegos Sanitation

I think this one day fairly represented the amount of plastics I used because I was going out of the house a lot and going to different classes and going out to eat. Before leaving for my classes I would always grab my keys that has my cougar card, credit card, and key along with my mask. Today was the day that I touched the most plastic because I was so busy. Unfortunately, I have to admit that I was running late to my one class so I had to grab a plastic water bottle for on the go. I did recycle it but I should have given myself a few extra minutes to refill my metal water bottle. On Tuesday I learned and realized how much stuff is made of plastic. Since it was so hot me and my roommate had to turn our three fans on in our room. There’s three fans counted towards my 38 items that I touched that were plastic.  When I started this assignment I never would have imagined how much plastic there is only in my dorm room. We even have ice trays or plastic.  Me and my roommates have a recycling can that’s different from our garbage can. We use a lot of plastic forks and other utensils when the other silverware isn’t clean. Hey, what can I say, not everything can always be clean.  When I was figuring out my plastic footprint, I found out that I use 52.4 pounds a year. 

AAI removes single-use plastics from another 20 airports

By the end of the day I was really ashamed of myself with how much plastic I used. Even in the shower thinking about the day there was plastic surrounding me. With body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and many face products, it was an insane realization. I am only one person and the fact that I use that much plastic hurts to see.


Best shower and bath products 2021: shampoo, conditioners, scrubs

The Oblivious Footprint

As I started my day out on Wednesday, September 15th, I started to collect small items throughout my day that would eventually lead to a pile of small objects that were used for one time at my convenience, and frankly I was disgusted with myself at the end of the day. Not by the fact that there was a small pile I collected on my bed to take a photo of, but at the thought of how little effort it takes to use and get rid of so many pieces of plastic throughout my day.

Plastic use, in todays societal and economic standard, is almost impossible to get away from. With American society producing 380 million tons of plastic every year, we are geared to using it in everyday lives. As I carried around a bag with me all day I realize that if everyone around me is using and disposing with the same patterns, even though I am more conscious of due to this class, then there is millions of pieces of plastics floating around all day.

Here is a collection of all the pieces of disposable plastic that I gathered with me throughout my day here on campus, and believe me, it was more than I was hoping for. Going back between each dining halls or making a stop in the morning at Einstein Bagels resulted in looking for the most convenient options that loaded my bag up with different pieces of trash throughout my day. I do believe that this pile of trash is well represented of my day to day life as I usually am in and out of the dining halls all day as I go from different classes. Around campus there’s a lot of Eco options that allow many of the ‘plastic’ items to be correctly disposed of but with the hustle and bustle of the day most college students forget about the ‘eco’ part of their plastic.

From this experiment and collection I learned that there is much more oblivion in my day than I realize, that I constantly am contributing to a carbon footprint with no actual realization of what Im putting and taking out of our environment consistently throughout my days. I have learned to challenge myself and put myself on a higher standard for my plastic consumption and use on campus while utilizing the sources the college puts in order to maintain a smaller carbon footprint. I think this experiment was valuable in that it was a tangible effort that granted me hands on visual learning of what I was really doing throughout my day. To put in conscious efforts throughout my day would allow at least some impact on my carbon footprint. I don’t think this specific day in my life increased or decreased my average days carbon footprint, as there was nothing truly unusual about the plastic I was using throughout the day.

I believe that finding resources around you that will help you be more ecofriendly in the long run. For example, near my parents house on Johns Island is a major recycling facility that helps sort and organize different sections of plastics and major products of waste that I have been using frequently this past summer.

I think its unreasonable to feel guilty towards ones own consumption and plastic usage if there were recently oblivious to the impact that their increasing rates had on their environment. I believe that if every individual could make a conscious and educated choice about their plastic usage, then society would decrease their rapid damages and human kind could be less ashamed of their plastic consumption rates

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!