There has been a sudden movement toward the care and awareness of the environment in the United States. Do these people who seemingly care for the environment truly want to help the Earth, or do they do it because of the newly popular “VSCO girl” label?
The effect of plastic and litter on the Earth is huge and needs more awareness. When asked about these effects, biology teacher Megan Trotter said, “I think we are unaware of our plastic [use] in everyday life.” Junior Katherine Graddy also said, “If we continue to ignore the issue of plastic and litter on the Earth, then we will regret it when it’s too late. We only have one planet, so we need to do everything that we can to keep it clean and usable.” Significant movements have been made around the United States to limit plastic usage and waste, causing metal straws, paper straws and other straw alternatives to become more prominent.
Whether education, trends or genuine interest, the popular idea of metal straws is causing more recognition towards these issues. A plastic straw is used only one time before forgotten and thrown away. According to The New York Times, “The United States goes through 500 million straws per day.” Although it seems like a person will never be affected by their straw usage, the Earth is already showing signs of its effect on the environment because of all the litter and plastic in landfills and ending up in bodies of water.
Sophomore Jeremiah Simmons said, “I think people should be more aware of our plastic usage.” It is important to keep an eye on the usage of plastic and its effects of the environment. Graddy was asked about the effect of using fewer plastic straws. She said, “Using plastic straws not only helps the environment, but it also helps to create a mentality of reducing waste and being conscious of our actions.” The issues of plastic and its effect on the world is getting to the point where they are beginning to shed some much-needed light, causing Americans to react to this news in a variety of ways. Countless people are spreading the word about laziness and its effect on the environment, while others are changing their own habits and being more aware of their plastic usage.
Students come across news on the topics of environmental problems through numerous different sources, including television, social media, newspapers and magazines. Graddy said she gets the majority of her news from “social media and other online resources, as they are the most convenient and easy to access.” Along with plastic straws being terrible for the environment, Trotter also mentioned Styrofoam, and how she “feels guilty when Chick-Fil-A hands [her] a Styrofoam cup with a [plastic] straw in it.” Trotter “hates that [she] throws it away when [she] knows that it will never break down and it will be forever filling landfills.” To know that Styrofoam and plastic straws will never break down is devastating because it will pollute the Earth forever.
A recent movement for a better economy is the new popularity of metal straws. Metal straws are a simple way to limit plastic waste. Not only do they look tremendous, but if not as many people use plastic straws, there will be less of a need for them, causing there to be less pollution. Metal straws can be ordered online and come in cardboard packaging rather than plastic, which is a way to be economically aware. When asked whether she believes that people make these efforts because they truly care or if they are trend followers, Trotter said, “A little bit of both; I think people will do it because it is trendy right now. I think they want to show that being environmentally aware is really cool, so I think they want to give the people that illusion that they do.” Trotter hoped that in reality, “People do because they actually do care.”
People have the ability to help the environment, somebody just has to take the first step. A simple action a student at Wesleyan can take is to use the ceramic plate instead of using a Styrofoam plate. If people take this straightforward action, the cafeteria will have to resupply the Styrofoam plates less often. Every person would be doing their own part regarding making a change to be less harmful in the environment. By using either no straw or a metal straw, although it seems like a small action, it can make a positive impact in today’s world.
Graddy said, “The average person can make the Earth a better place by recognizing the problem at hand, accepting the responsibility that we have to shift our lifestyle and encourage others to do the same.”