In the year 2021, large corporations proudly displaying their sustainability efforts is not uncommon. The sad part is that many of these companies do this simply to attract more customers, not because they want to use their power to make a genuine change in the environment. Instead, they like to make consumers feel as if they are “doing their part” environmentally by marketing off this sustainable image. After doing some research into large corporations that are truly making efforts towards being environmentally conscious, I discovered how much HP is a great representation of exactly that. HP is an IT company that is best known for selling things like laptops, computers, printers, computer accessories, etc. They currently have the world’s most sustainable PC portfolio and 100+ gold rated EPEAT items (which is a ranking system used to help buyers compare and choose electronics based on their “environmental attributes.”
Since HP has such a good record of making sustainable efforts throughout their company, they proudly display these efforts in an annual Sustainable Impact Report which can be located on their website. Not only do these reports provide detailed information on what they are trying to accomplish, but they also have the numbers to prove their progress. In these reports, you can find information on the company’s carbon footprint, many recognitions, future goals and so much more. In their most recent report from 2020, all of their future goals are clearly stated in a timeline with several different time markers. By 2030, they aim to reach 75% circularity for products/packaging, maintain 0% deforestation for HP paper, and achieve carbon neutrality with supply businesses. 95% of HP’s suppliers have gone through a social/environmental assessment, as the company wants to ensure that all of their suppliers are working towards the same ethical and sustainable goals.
They have full Sustainable Impact reports dating back to 2001, which shows you how over time HP has really grown and so have their effort towards making a bigger impact. The company shifted from resolving the lack of energy efficiency in their facilities to making their actual products more energy efficient. This is a prime example of the progress they have made and how their goals are being met yearly. 2001 HP Vice President Gary Fazzino stated “HP believes in the power of transparency” and that statement has been upheld to this day, building so many partnerships and creating accountability.
To sum it all up, HP is the perfect example of a true green business. Each year, they work towards creating a more environmentally friendly company with employees that have the same values. They are making large scale efforts towards restoring the environment and creating a circular economy that ultimately benefits everyone. Also, all of their efforts are backed up with the statistics to prove it. They see room to improve and constantly strive for better. It is really amazing to see large corporations take responsibility and create a system where they are giving back as much as they’re taking.
On November 2, 2021, a news article was released discussing the impact that the portrayal of single-use plastics in media has on our society. The USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center in Hollywood, CA began analyzing how common these single-use plastics were versus reusable and eco-friendly products in television and film. They ended up coming to the conclusion that plastic pollution was just as prominent on screen as it is in the lives of most US citizens. The ultimate goal of this analysis was to bring attention to and reduce the amount of plastic presented in the media, but to also institute changes that need to be made to progress in this generation.
Most of this research was authorized by the Plastic Pollution Coalition. Through their studies, they were able to make several assumptions about how single-use plastics portrayed in television causes us to subconsciously downplay the importance of reducing our own plastic use. They stated that single-use plastic made an appearance in every episode with an average of 28 items per episode. They also took note that a vast majority of the items were not dispose of on screen, which promotes the “false narrative of ‘magically disappearing trash.’” Dianna Cohen, Co-Founder and CEO of the Plastic Pollution Coalition states that “We are shaped and formed by what we watch. Media has the power to reimagine the world and blaze a trail to a regenerative, reusable, refillable, healthy, thriving plastic-free world for all living beings, if only we commit and act now.” When we were younger our parents would attempt to censor certain content in an effort to prevent us from mimicking any negative actions done on-screen, but to an extent we never really outgrow that as Cohen states. The things we see on television or listen to on the radio can impact our actions in such a discreet manner that we might not even realize it until it’s already happened.
The Plastic Pollution Coalition’s ultimate goal is to form better habits in our everyday lives. They’ve reached out to many people in all aspects of the entertainment industry to express their concerns and get them involved in the movement towards change. While these changes are on-screen, they are made with the intent of altering the actions of people off-screen.
The biggest takeaway from this article is that so many different things can make subtle influences on the way we live our lives through the things we listen to or see on a regular basis. If programs like the Plastic Pollution Coalition are able to push for changes in how often and how much we see single-use plastic in our favorite TV shows, then this could subconsciously change our careless habits of consumption with the intent to discard it immediately. By replacing the single-use plastics on TV with reusable alternatives, this would set a better example for people to follow and could make a big impact overall. Every little step counts towards an earth that is free of plastic pollution and its toxic impact on the environment.
Living sustainably. Such a simple way to live, yet would require countless changes in a lifestyle like mine. Most people in the modern day don’t typically think twice about what their food, hygiene products, makeup, etc. comes packaged in. Majority of it is plastic. Not only is it plastic, but all of those things we use for a short amount of time and then straight to the trash it goes. These are some of the simple things that I want to slowly but surely decrease from my lifestyle.
In my last blog post, I talked a lot about the importance of change, but now it’s time to really take action. Incorporating small changes into my life over a long period of time can make a serious difference. So let’s start small. I started thinking about the different areas in my life that are like plastic-central. As I went to shower and used shampoo, conditioner, face wash and body wash all kept in plastic containers, I realized how much of my plastic use was from this one small area of my life. So again, let’s start small. I decided then that I would look for substitutes for my body wash, and then if I found that change to be suitable, we would keep going from there.
A day later and I had done it. I’d taken one small step towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle. It was such a rewarding feeling that I was actually excited to see what else I could do. I began noticing that the majority of the snack foods I was consuming were packaged in plastic. I want this to be my next goal in this journey because I know how much single-use plastic waste is damaging our environment and I don’t want to be a heavy contributor to that. I plan to try to eat more fresh foods that don’t come prepackaged, which can also contribute to my overall health if I make the right choices. It’s a win win!
Despite wanting to make a change, there are still some plastic items that I don’t think I’ll be giving up anytime soon. Things like shoes, which are a pretty big necessity, tend to be made out of different synthetic materials. I may not be able to get rid of synthetic shoes completely, but I can definitely limit the amount of shoes I’m buying and not buy an abundance. There is a difference in needs and wants and this is definitely one of them. Don’t feel too bad about the things you can’t change, but focus on all of the things you can.
Becoming completely plastic free is a very unrealistic goal, but you can always do as much or as little as you’re comfortable with. Do what works for your lifestyle and adjust as needed. So to sum it all up I’ll say it yet again, it is okay to START SMALL. In this case, any change is good change and anyone is capable of it. This is only the beginning!
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.