Five Things to Know About Reducing Plastic Waste on Campus: Why and how you should take care of the environment at school.

It’s noon and your stomach is rumbling, so you walk over to Walton to grab some lunch. You get a burger and fries and then a salad. Already you have two plastic to- go containers and a plastic pack of utensils, of which you are only going to use the napkin and fork. Not to mention, you grabbed two cups on your way in, even though you are only going to fill up one. According to National Geographic, each of these single-use plastic items are piling
on to the 6.3 billion tons of plastic waste in the world.

So why try to reduce plastic waste on campus? According to Almost Zero Waste, “recycling plastic is not efficient – only nine percent of plastic ever produced has been recycled. About 60 percent is discarded in landfills and oceans.” This results in many detrimental side effects, including the
generation of greenhouse gas emissions and the contamination of animal habitats.

The recent COVID-19 protocols on Eastern University’s campus have resulted in an increase in single-use plastic. While we cannot directly reverse these precautions, as they are for the safety of students, we can still take action to help reduce plastic waste. Here are several ideas to help reduce plastic waste on campus:

Invest in a reusable water bottle.

According to Be Bottle, using a reusable water bottle “replaces all the plastics that you would have used and thereby reduces both your carbon footprint and helps reduce the plastic burden on landfills, oceans, streams and other places that plastic waste ends up.”

Reuse utensils

If you go to grab lunch and you pick up one of the plastic packages of utensils, don’t throw them away! Take them back to your dorm and wash them so you can use them to eat a snack later. Not only will you help out the environment, but you’ll save yourself a couple of bucks.

Use reusable bags

If you take an essential trip to the grocery store, opt for bringing a reusable bag, and if you forget, ask for a paper bag! If all else fails, use those plastic bags you got from the store as trash bags or storage.

Use reusable storage containers

If you are having a snack or meal in your room, use reusable storage containers versus single-use plastic containers! This will not only save you some cash, but it will also save the environment.

Skip plastic straws

According to Keep Nature Wild, “in the US alone, over 500 million single-use straws are thrown away each day… One plastic straw takes about 200 years to decompose… [and] each year, one million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals die simply from ingesting plastic.”

Sources: National Geographic, Almost Zero Waste, Be Bottle, Keep Nature Wild

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