The plastics crisis is becoming harder to ignore. 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced since its mass adoption in the 195os and production is only increasing. Due to its lengthy lifetime, it often ends up in the environment, harming wildlife and making its way into our food.
You may ask yourself: What if we just recycled better?
But here’s the truth: Most of the plastic we use is not recyclable, and only 9 percent of plastic waste ever generated has been recycled.
In order to mitigate the plastics crisis, there needs to be a reduction of plastic production and a shift toward sustainable alternatives such as reusable and compostable items.
As a student at Cascadia College, I’ve been part of an initiative to reduce single-use plastics, conducting biweekly waste audits on campus over the past 6 months. During each audit, I have found an unsettling amount of plastic in the waste stream. With this in mind, my end goal is to create a campus-wide policy that requires compostable foodware to be used by our food/drink vendors. Compostable foodware is made out of biodegradable material that can be broken down at a commercial composting facility instead of lingering for hundreds of years in a landfill.
As students we have the power to motivate our campus to become plastic free. Whether it’s encouraging the use of reusable items or making the switch to compostable foodware, we can reduce waste and make a difference.