Plastic, and our consumption of it, is to blame for the bad state our planet is in. Plastic is in almost everything people use each day. Plastic holds the milk for our cereal; our water is encased in it for convenience. Nearly everything we buy at the grocery store is wrapped in it. Almost all the plastic we consume is categorized as “disposable,” but how can something that never decomposes be considered disposable? It can’t. The plastic water bottle you used today will be on this planet long after you are gone, but you can change that.
Photo: tanvi sharma on Unsplash
Buy reusable or sustainable: when you shop purchase items packaged in reusable or sustainable packaging. Sustainable packaging is considered anything that can biodegrade, like cardboard. This is easy to do with some products (eggs, Jelly, beverages) but is harder with others (meats, produce, ect). This step may also seem small as you walk through the aisles of the store but if everyone starts purchasing unwrapped fresh produce and sustainably packaged products then other companies will have to change their behavior to remain in competition. By limiting plastic consumption in the marketplace consumers have the power to change the behavior of companies while also limiting their own footprint.
Recycle: Millenial and Gen Z populations have learned the importance of recycling from a young age, and it remains our duty today. In today's age, recycling is easy because most towns and universities offer it with little to no work required on the part of the individual, and yet so many people do it wrong. What many people don’t realize is that cross contamination leads to many materials not being recycled at all. This cross contamination is caused when people throw away food and other non-recyclable items into the recycling bin or fail to separate their recyclables. When this occurs on a large scale, like at a university, it can prompt the local municipality to refuse collection at those locations. In short, this can mean everything you think you are recycling at your school is actually ending up in a landfill despite your best efforts. So please separate your recyclables and check with your company, building, or university that your recyclables are being collected appropriately.
UpCycle: Many products in recent years have been switched over to reusable plastic containers. Ice cream is an example of a product. These containers are equipped with twist off lids and hard bodies. These containers are ideal for upcycling because being made from hard plastic or glass they hold their shape and can be washed easily. These containers are great for storing leftovers, packing a lunch, or even starting a small herb garden. Every time you reuse the container you are preventing another plastic bag or container from entering your life.
Carry reusable everything: in the last year or so reusable straws have become all the rage and it is amazing! Consider taking it a step further and packing reusable cutlery or drinkware. These items are now available in just about every shape, size, and color imaginable making it easy for your to customize to fit your taste. In addition, many coffee shops and similar locations now allow you to bring your own container for them to make your drink in; it saves them money on cups, while also making it more convenient for their customers.
Educate yourself: there are thousands of articles and documentaries ( A Plastic Ocean: Netflix) available for you to learn more about the dangers of plastic. These sources will also make you want to cut plastic completely out of your life rather than just cutting down. In addition, they offer an eye opening explanation of what human action and inaction is doing to the planet and oceans and what in return is happening to us as a result.
Step Up for our planet and future and take steps to cut down on plastic consumption. If everyone does just a little the results can snowball into something great. By switching to sustainable products you not only make the world a little better but you also help future generations of living beings (people, plants, animals, etc.) have a happy and healthy world to live in.
I am Morgan Dunham. I am 21 years old and currently studying History at High Point University with a minor in Psychology. When I am not working you will usually find me drinking tea and binge-watching Gilmore Girls for the eighth time.