Lately the topic of excess garbage, including food waste, has been a hot topic in the news because the destructive effects of excess waste are starting to affect health and safety of people. Excess waste has always been affecting our health and safety but until now the effects have not been so obvious. Excess waste causes air pollution, respiratory diseases, contamination of surface and ground waters and increased bacteria, insects and vermin urban centers. To help alleviate some of the stress on our environment caused by excess waste, I propose that each first year student receives a custom Union Tupperware container. This way the students can use the containers in Reamer for various food options; Rathskeller takeout; and in the dining halls so as to reduce the amount of to-go cups used as makeshift takeout containers. A typical square generic “Tupperware” container costs ~$1.00 so for an incoming class of ~700 students this would call for a grant of ~$750 for custom Tupperware containers. The waste we would be avoiding if this grant were to be granted would far out-cost the cost of the containers. Perhaps dining services could have some kind of program or contest once a term that incorporates the containers and when they hold their “pop-up” events, students should only be served if they have their reusable containers. Perhaps this would also encourage students to purchase more reusable containers and use less one-use containers!
Clearly, plastic contributes to a large portion of the humans waste that pollutes the environment. Although we are told to reduce, reuse, and recycle, much of our plastic is disposed of improperly and ends up in places where it has the potential to cause great harm, such as the ocean.
The graph I chose details the portion of plastic trash that is disposed of improperly as well as the portion of that plastic that ends up in the ocean. In 201o, 275 million tonnes of plastic trash was produced. Of this 275 million tonnes of total plastic waste, 31.9 million tonnes were disposed of improperly and, therefore, 243.1 million tonnes were disposed of properly. Although at face value it seems like this means we’re doing pretty well with recycling, when I calculated the percentage I discovered that this means 11.6% was disposed of improperly and 88.4% was disposed of properly. This means more than 1 in 10 articles of plastic waste were not recycled, which gives these stats perspective and shows that we are really slacking on recycling. Additionally, of the 31.9 million tonnes of improperly disposed plastic waste, 8.75 million tonnes ended up in the ocean, which is 27.4% of the improperly disposed of plastic and 3.2 percent of all plastic waste.
By further interpreting graphs such as this one, it is possible to gain a more comprehensive perspective on the real meaning behind the numbers and what they really mean.
In this article, it is discussed how many different countries, other than America, are found to be incredible dangerous when it comes to littering and keep trash off of the streets and oceans. When people tend to think of Global Warming and littering issues, they tend to only think of what they can do in their own country, and for the most part, this seems to be talked about in America.
I think an important part of this process, if we as humans are really trying to make a difference on our environment, would be to educate other countries about the dangerous of littering as well. As shown in the chart taken from this article, other countries such as China and Indonesia are struggling immensely when it comes to trash issues.
The article I analyzed, entitled, Seven charts that explain the plastic pollution problem, by BBC News explains how plastic consumption, not only in the United States, but across the globe have a series of severe impacts on our environment, and maintain there for a plethora of years.
The article first explains the amount of plastic that have been produced to date of the article (December 2017). It has been recorded that 8.3bn tonnes of plastic had been produced, and as of 2015, only 9% was recycled, 12% was incinerated, and 79% was accumulated in landfills or in the natural environment. This vast amount of waste should not be extremely surprising, considering plastic products are usually ‘throwaway’ or ‘single use’ items.
Later in the article, it explains the amount of plastic that ends up in the sea. The article estimates that about 10m tonnes of plastic makes its way into the oceans annually. A study published by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis and the University of Georgia in Athens conducted a survey which found that Asian nations were 13 of the 20 largest contributors to plastic waste in the oceans. Although the US was not the biggest contributor, we were still ranked in the top 20, meaning that we are not off the hook for ocean contamination.
The most interesting graph I found was a bar graph that estimates how long certain plastic products take to biodegrade. The graph shows that it takes 50 years for a Styrofoam cup to degrade. This basically means that everyday your morning coffee cup will stay in the environment for about half a century.