Plastic is a big part of our everyday lives. Your toothbrush is plastic, most water bottles are plastic, cars are made with plastic. Grocery bags, containers, utensils, straws–all plastic.
Plastic is one the hardest man-made objects to decompose, taking about 1000 years. Lots of people are trying to figure out alternatives for plastic and a lot of people have. There is an overwhelming amount of plastic use in Michigan as a whole, and our schools are contribute to it. In a recent visit to Japan, I along with others including Kalamazoo’s Mayor Bobby Hopewell got to visit a recycling company in Japan and to see how that country solves the problem.
The company we visited gave people with disabilities jobs while also helping their environment. Since, Mayor Hopewell had a recycling event and is now trying to make a lasting difference in the way we take care of plastic. Recycling is one way to reduce pollution given off by waste in landfills. By recycling plastic we are able to reuse the plastic instead of just throwing away and creating more and more which in the long run increases pollution.
According to MLive, Hopewell’s educational campaign looks to double Michigan’s dismal recycling rate, which currently rests at 15 percent and the lowest in the Great Lakes region and among the lowest in the nation, according to Environmental Great Lakes and Energy.
There are also many other schools in Michigan trying to make an environmental difference. Michigan Green Schools is a non-profit 501c 3 that is making a really big difference in K-12 schools. They help Michigan schools achieve environmental goals.
On the Michigan Green Schools website, they state its mission is to protect “the air, land, water, and animals of our state along with world outreach through good ecological practices and the teaching of educational stewardship of students.”
Gull Lake Environmental Club is also trying to make a difference in the way our school takes care of waste. Last year they started a hydroponics project to create food here. This is when you grow plants in sand, gravel,or liquid, with added nutrients but you don’t use soil. They are also trying to make a difference in the plastic use in the school. Another way the club works to stifle waste is by selling metal straws to reduce the plastic straw use in and out of school.
Though people have figured out an alternative for plastic it usually isn’t affordable. This is the case for our own lunch room.
“There’s not a cost-effective way to deal with the plates and plastic at a high school,” said Gull Lake High School lunch lady Mrs. Wisser said.
Wisser said using regular plates and silverware is too costly. It is more cost effective for larger operations such as universities or large restaurants.”
But she also suggested that this could be a great project for environmental club to handle.
“Younger kids are very much into recycling so if they were as available as at Starbucks and Target more people would be willing to do it,” Wisser said.
There are lots of alternatives to the use of plastic. Such as metal or reusable straws, reusable containers, reusable shopping bags or paper and glass. If everyone were to start recycling the earth would look and smell better.
It would give people jobs and lots of people would save a lot of money by reusing instead of buying more and more. Also, the US wouldn’t have to spend that much money on plastic production. According to The Wall Street Journal, U.S. goes through over 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. This does not include the millions of plastic bottles and other plastic things used.
As a community, we all need to work together to try and keep our environment clean whether that be by reusing things you have around your homes or recycling more. If not at this rate landfills will continue to grow, and we will soon run out of places to put our trash.