Saving Our Throw-Away Society

Saving Our Throw-Away Society

Our society has fostered a culture that turns a blind eye to the implications of our throw-away culture - one that believes everything is disposable, replaceable and transient - resulting in a cornucopia of negative implications.

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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."

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The Plastic Straw Ban Is A Good Thing, So Slurp On That

It is positive any way that you look at it.

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vdurgin
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As Starbucks and Disneyland both announced plans to remove plastic straws from their offerings, the debate surrounding the effectiveness of plastic straw bans seemed to reach a fever pitch.

Critiques of the ban run from cries of ableism to shames of lazy activism. Along with that span, people have questioned whether one person not using straws can even make a difference and questioned if plastic even harms the planet all that much.

For the last two points, the answer is a resounding "yes". Approximately eight million metric tons of plastic ends up in the world's oceans every year.

Starbucks' planned ban on straws will eliminate upwards of one billion straws a year; Disneyland's similar plan will remove more than 175 million straws and 13 million stirrers annually. This will hugely benefit marine life that is threatened by the increasing amount of plastic waste in the world's oceans.

But the immediate effect on ocean health is lost among the noise of other concerns surrounding the debate on bans. According to some, the ban is ableist because many with disabilities need straws in order to drink beverages.

This argument overlooks two key points: that Starbucks will offer non-plastic straws as an alternative to those who ask, and the fact that reusable straws of several different material and size options are available for inexpensive prices on sites such as Amazon.

The wider concern comes from a place of apprehension; will this just encourage people to not use straws and then think that is enough to save the planet? Will this just lull people into a calming mindset that they are doing enough, and should do nothing more?

I'm far from an expert, but in my humble opinion, plastic straw bans are none of the above. Are they a final solution to the multitude of climate change-related issues we all collectively face? No, not at all.

But refusing single-use plastic straws is a step easy enough for people to take in their daily lives. No average Joe will be able to stop bug oil companies from polluting water systems on his own. Jane Doe can't directly and single-handedly change a country's environmental policies.

But Jane and Joe and all of us can stop using plastic straws and throw them to a landfill after one use. The ban, and the subsequent push to convince people to refuse all single-use plastics is accessible to all people.

It is one area in which every person actually does have the power to drastically improve the world for the thousands of species that call oceans home.

Plastic straw bans empower ordinary citizens with an extraordinary impact on the environmental problems about which they hear so much. I don't know if it will lull them into a false sense of security, but I do know that the end result will still be a greatly improved ocean system.

That should be celebrated; mocking "small" actions like this will only further isolate people from the movement to improve our planet. The last thing this world needs right now is more apathetic people doing nothing to fight climate change.

The plastic straw ban is not the end-all, be-all solution to the problems we face, but that doesn't automatically make it useless. We should all take steps as simple as not sipping from a one-use plastic straw while enjoying our coffee, or tea, or whatever you order from Starbucks.

In the long run, a higher amount of people participating in an act to help the planet will help not only Mother Earth but all of the people who call her home as well.

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4 Products To Keep Your Period Plastic-Free

C'mon ladies, let's save a few sea turtles during our crimson tide!

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Our plastic waste eats up landfills, oceans, and the environment around us. It's killing the planet and the creatures that inhabit it. If we all make small, easy swaps on everyday products, we can make one large change for Mother Earth! So I know we all dread that time of the month, but Aunt Flow visits us whether we like it or not. With some of these feminine products, we can change our habits to help our planet, our bodies, and our wallets!

1. Cloth pads

http://gladrags.com

Sanitary napkins can take from 500 to 800 years to decompose in a landfill. Reusable pads are an easy option when first starting your low-waste journey! The cloth pads snap around your underwear to stay in place, with an absorbing cloth inside to ensure that they don't leak. Most come with washable carrying cases so you can change out the pad out in public restrooms. If you're at home, you simply toss the cloth pad in your laundry basket. Cloth pads come in all shapes in sizes, even slim fit that are made for thongs. Not to mention there are adorable patterns and colors!

2. Menstrual cup

https://www.saaltco.com

I recently bought a menstrual cup and cannot wait to try it! Menstrual cups are known for being incredibly comfortable, so comfortable you forget they're there. They last all day long, don't leak, and are completely reusable! All cups will come with an instruction guide. The cup is easy to insert, but you'll want to make sure you have a good understanding of where your cervix is before you do it. Once home for the day, all you have to do is pull the cup out and rinse it in your sink. Cleanliness is the most important factor to remember when using the cup. Most companies sell a soap that is safe for both you and the cup materials.

If you are a regular tampon user, I recommend the cup for you. It's similar, saves money, and is a healthier option than the chemicals found in your tampons, and we've all feared toxic shock syndrome which is not something that occurs when using the cup. On a less important note (but the fun part), my cup came with the cutest pink carrying case so I can throw it in my purse for emergencies.

3. Period panties

https://www.shethinx.com

Period panties are the easiest option by far. They take no extra work— you just put on underwear like you do every day. The nice part is that they come in all kinds of sizes and styles, from hip-huggers to bikinis and thongs. When I used period panties, I always went for the hip-hugging style, which I would recommend for any girls blessed with a big booty like me. My favorite part about period panties is that you can buy different kinds depending on how heavy your flow is. Think of these like regular and super-plus tampons. I opted for the heaviest flow option, only because I was scared of spotting onto my pants.

I loved my period panties and will continue to use them on my lighter days, but I advise caution to girls with heavy flows. The one downfall is that if you're out in public and start to feel like you need a fresh pair, you're SOL. Now, I never had the issue of needing to change them, so maybe they just gave me flashbacks of middle school and the constant fear that somebody could see spots on my jeans...but understand that they take some getting used to. Just don't knock 'em until you try them!

4. Applicator-free tampons

http://www.ob-tampons.com

Although I am a fan of reusable products that are zero waste, I understand changing your habits can be difficult. If you can't make the switch and know tampons are the best option for you, try O.B. tampons! They reduce waste by not coming with the unnecessary plastic applicators. O.B. tampons are inserted by just using your finger, but don't worry about the mess they are designed to keep your tampon (and your finger) clean! O.B. tampons are a healthy, low waste option that won't disrupt the lifestyle you have today. They're easy to find online and in most stores!

All it takes are a few small changes in your lifestyle to conserve waste. Even though your period only comes once every month, think about how much plastic you'll avoid using over the course of a year!

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