“Be the Green:” Plastic

Laura Nayibi Arias, Culture Editor

While according to the EPA, in 2010 the average American generated about 250 million tons of trash and recycled and composted over 85 million tons of it, managing waste sustainably is not just about recycling. It still takes resources to recycle and remake. Have you ever thought about alternatives to things such as plastic bottles, bags, forks, spoons—plastic any- thing? According to the Clean Air Council, “Every year, Americans throw away enough paper and plastic cups, forks and spoons to circle the equator 300 times.” Meanwhile, “The state of California spends about 25 million dollars sending plastic bags to landfills each year, and another 8.5 million dollars to remove littered bags from streets.”

It is clear that not only is our excessive use of plastic harming the environment in various ways, but that it is harming our economy as well. Though many do not consider this, switching to non-plastic/environmentally friendly products is sustainable and economically gratifying simply because instead of buying the same product over, one can reuse a product of better quality. While it takes energy and many resources to produce the disposable item, the more it is produced, the more this energy is wasted, and the more resources are needed. But, if for example, one was to buy a glass food container as opposed to a plastic food container, the glass container would not only last longer but will preserve the food better.

Now, one might argue that the plastic container is more affordable than the glass container, which could be true de- pending on where the containers are purchased. Because the glass container lasts longer, one will be paying for more plastic containers as they decay, while still having the glass container.

Even if glass containers last longer, some people just don’t like that they might be too heavy or are afraid they might break. Some people might also be reluctant to buy 500 metal forks, knives and spoons when planning an event. What do they do? Luckily, biodegradable cutlery has recently hit the market with many people impressed by its abilities. For example, according to Natur-Bag, a business that engineers and manufactures bio- based and compostable plastics, their cutlery is “made from GMO-free, non-food source, annually renewable resources, and uses 80 percent less carbon than traditional plastic cutlery.” Many other companies make such products while having similar standards.

So, next time you plan on buying plastic containers, bottles, or forks and knives, consider either buying them as biodegradable, glass, or metal (non-toxic).

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