Global warming. Climate change. Deforestation. Loss of biodiversity. Air pollution. Water Pollution. Dying sea turtles and whales.
These are only a few of the many, major environmental issues that the world is faced with today. It doesn't matter how you look at it, environmental issues can make or break our future. It dictates how healthy we'll be in the future. It dictates the world our future children and grandchildren will live in. It dictates how many marine animals die. It dictates the percentage of waste that currently, and will eventually, cover our land.
Let me put it into perspective for you. About 8.3 billion tons of plastic has been produced since the 1950s. This equates to the weight of roughly a billion elephants or 47 million blue whales. Some of you may argue that we reuse most of this plastic or dispose of it properly. Incorrect. Of that 8.3 billion tons of plastic, only about 9% is recycled, 12% have been burned, and the remaining 79% ends up in landfills or the environment.
We need to focus the paradigm from constant plastic production and usage to ceasing the use of plastic entirely. In other words, Tallahassee, as well as every other city in the world, needs to follow in Gainsville's footsteps. Slowly but surely, we all need to decrease our plastic use in order to strive towards a better life, environment, and planet.
Believe it or not, there is a variety of alternative eco-friendly options besides plastic. There are so many easy and simple lifestyle changes that one can live by to make an impact. In case you need some ideas, check out this article for some easy tips and tricks.
By the year 2040, Gainsville plans to be completely waste-free. I think that everyone should commend them for taking the initiative to instill change. Gradually, Gainesville went from a 'zero-waste' policy to a complete waste ban. While partaking in eco-friendly measures may cost more, it benefits everyone in the long run. It's not always about money. Life shouldn't, and doesn't, revolve around the aspect of dollars and cents. If anything, start with compostable and biodegradable plastic products. While styrofoam may be the go-to options for thousands of restaurants due to it being the cheapest option, it doesn't break down. As a result, it negatively affects both wildlife and humans.
In an interview with Wuft-FM, the Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos stated that "It's time to make Gainesville a leader in protecting the environment." Additionally, while I am an avid Noles fan (boo Gators), I applaud the University of Florida for taking steps in reducing waste as well. The Director of the UF Office of Sustainability, Matthew Williams, boasts that Gator Dining eliminated all usage of foam containers back in 2011. Better yet, they continued to eliminate the use of plastic bags back in 2013.
While I commend Gainesville for taking the important and necessary steps to abide by the 'Zero-Waste' policy and pushing for its plastic ban, they are not the first to do so. In terms of Florida, Key West has adopted this policy as well. As for other states, some examples include certain cities Texas, Colorado, and even California.
I think the issue here is that most people follow the idea of "out of sight, out of mind." For many people, being eco-friendly isn't a huge concern. For many people, they are concerned with saving the planet. However, simple practices and easy changes can result in large transformations. Use a reusable water bottle. Stop using plastic bags. Invest in reusable (metal) straws. The list is endless. Take the time to instill change.