It's no secret that our planet is facing a bit of a trash problem. Stories of "islands of garbage", such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, make it clear that we have more trash on our hands than we know what to do with. And we have yet to find a viable solution to collect displaced garbage or to realistically reduce our annual waste output. But who cares?
The answer is...you!
According to millennials who answered a global survey by the World Economic Forum in 2017 about the world's most critical problems, nearly half (48.8%) of the survey participants chose climate change as their top concern, and 78.1% said they would be willing to change their lifestyle to protect the environment.
My own reality check came at the dinner table when my grandfather, after finishing his food, poured a glass of water into his soup bowl, swished the water around and then drank it. While everyone around him made crude faces and looked at him in shock, he pointed out that in doing this he had put no food to waste and saved water that would have been used by the dishwasher. In truth, there was no fault in his action except that younger generations are born and brought up in a culture where wasting is acceptable.
Another one of his environmental philosophies is to only take as much as you will need. Our society has been accustomed to excess in all facets of our lives. While people from other countries take showers with a single gallon of water, we waste thousands on long showers. In the dining hall just yesterday, I saw dozens of students throw away plates of untouched food, likely not giving that action any thought ever again.
So, what's being done to save our throw-away society?
1. In hopes of keeping up with the British government's push to reduce their plastic waste output, McDonald's unveiled a plan to accomplish this by running a trial with paper straws instead of plastic straws in their UK and Ireland locations.
2. Kroger recently announced that they would phase out their iconic, single use brown plastic bags by the year 2025.
3. Attempting to make a dent in the plastic waste output that is created by discarded soda bottles, SodaStream developed a product that allows users to create their own flavored, carbonated beverages at home.
The truth is, environmental consciousness is more important now than ever before. With initiatives, plans and motives by corporations small and large alike, what was once a throw-away society looks to be headed in a direction focused on saving Earth. As we look to the future, keep in mind the adage, "Leave things better than you found them."