Grocery bags, containers, utensils, straws–plastic is a big part of our everyday lives. Your toothbrush is plastic, most water bottles are plastic, cars are made with plastic.
Plastic is one the hardest man-made objects to decompose, taking about 1000 years. 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 the visit, Mayor Hopewell had a recycling event in Kalamazoo and is now trying to make a lasting difference and not just throw away plastic. Recycling is one way to reduce pollution given off and reduces waste in growing landfills. By recycling plastic and reusing the plastic repurposes it instead of just tossing it and destroying the environment.
According to MLive, Hopewell’s educational campaign looks to double Michigan’s dismal recycling rate. Hopewell is striving for 30 percent, which beats 15 percent in Michigan–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.
The Michigan Green Schools 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.”
At our own school, Gull Lake Environmental Club has a history of making a difference to take 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.
Since 2015, the club has had a greenhouse and garden that co-ops vegetables to the cafeteria, local farmers market and local restaurants such as The Kitchen House on M-89. They are also trying to made a significant difference in the plastic use in the school through recycling bins in the hallways, but most importantly, the filtered water units install in 2016 where students can fill their own water bottles. Another way the club works to stifle waste is by selling metal straws to reduce the plastic straw use in and out of school.
Unfortunately, the push to get away from plastic forks and knives isn’t feasible at this time. Alternatives for plastic often aren’t affordable. Unfortunately, this is the case for our own lunch room at this time.
“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,” she said.
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 Wisser agreed the world 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.
- My name is Syann Hollins. I am a junior at Gull Lake High School, and I chose this class because I wanted to get better at videography and photography/photoshop. I enjoy writing, editing, and I also hope to improve those skills. I'm interested in writing about community activities and maybe a few sports.