It's Not All About Plastic Straws

Recently there has been a massive change in our society’s outlook on the use of plastic straws. An increasing number of people are using reusable straws or cutting plastic straws out of their life completely. Whilst that is great, people should not think that is all they can do. Plastic straws account for 0.025% of the tons of plastics dumped into the ocean every year. If we really want to reduce our impact on the environment, we have to do more and it’s really not that hard.

 

Let your clothes dry naturally.

Use a drying rack or if it’s sunny hang your laundry outside. Not only is this better for the environment, it’s arguably better for your clothes and your wallet too. If all Americans didn’t use their dryers for half of the year, it would save 3.3% of the country’s total residential output of CO2.

 

Use reusable bags.

Bring your own bags to the store! The amount of cute reusable bags available right now is insane, so we have no excuse. A single plastic bag has a life expectancy of up to 1000 years, yet we use each one for an average of around 12 minutes. Keep a reusable bag on you at all times or in the trunk of your car, so there’s no chance you’ll forget. Say no to plastic bags. If you only get one or two items, carry them!

 

Thrift shop.

We all know the impact the oil industry has on the environment, but did you know the fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world? I didn’t. Only 15% of our clothing is either recycled or donated, and 5.25% of the waste in landfills are textiles. As well as shopping at thrift stores, make sure you donate your unwanted clothes. Not only can thrift shopping help the environment, it saves your money too. The Orono thrift shop has some great deals, I got three shirts for less than $5 last week.

 

Avoid single use water bottles.

Humans buy around 1,000,000 plastic bottles per minute and only 23% of plastic bottles in the US are recycled. There are countless places to fill your water bottle on campus, why waste money and plastic by buying a single use one? Worried about drinking your tap water? Buy a water filter jug, or even a water bottle with a built-in filter.

 

Don’t smoke.

Not only is smoking detrimental to your health, cigarette filters are made out of a plastic called cellulose acetate that takes over 10 years to decompose. Cigarette butts are the biggest man-made ocean contaminant and the most littered item in the world. Before you go and buy that next pack of cigarettes, think of the ocean life you’re taking a part in destroying.

 

I am not saying people are not helping by refusing to use plastic straws, it’s a great step in the right direction. But people need to stop thinking of themselves as ‘eco-warriors’ for simply drinking straight from a glass. If we want to make a real change, we need to look at other aspects of our lives too.