The Chronicles of a Wasteful College Student

Let's start with the hard question: are you wasteful? Day to day, we not realize how unsustainable we are (college students especially.) From to-go boxes and straws, to the packaging our textbooks come in, all of these things are harming our planet. Curious as to just how much I waste as an average college student in one week, I kept all (or at least most) of my trash for a 5 day period to see just how wasteful I can be, and let me tell you, it’s eye opening

My Trash for Five Days

  • 3 to go coffee cups

  • 4 Styrofoam to go boxes

  • 2 straws

  • 3 paper plates

  • 5 candy wrappers (It was Halloween guys, I was ‘required’ to indulge)

  • 4 plastic cups

  • 2 boxes

  • 1 Sephora bag

  • 2 plastic grocery bags

  • 1 yogurt cup

  • 5 napkins

  • 1 event wristband

  • 1 Coke aluminum can

  • 1 Coke bottle

  • 4 coffee filters

  • 1 tea bag

  • 1 face mask/package

I was astonished to find that I can create this much waste in only FIVE DAYS. The even bigger problem, is I try to be conscious of how much waste I create. Consider other college students waste, and maybe even your own waste habits, it could be much larger than even this.

 

Photo Credit: The Thaiger & The Nation

 

The Problems of Excessive Waste

Waste in the United States,, as well as the UK is often buried, which can create harmful impacts to our environment. Buried trash can create methane gas, which is an explosive gas, and can contribute to the greenhouse effect and global warming. Incinerating waste also causes problems because plastics tend to produce toxic substances, such as dioxins, when they are burnt. Gases from incineration can cause air pollution and can lead to acid rain, while the ash from incinerators may contain heavy metals and other toxins damaging our ecosystems. Waste that is not collected properly can end up in the oceans and on our streets, causing a whole host of problems for the wildlife and effect our daily lives. “Once use” products also contribute greatly to the waste humans generate, and these products are often seen harming wildlife, such as sea turtles with plastic straws in their noses.

 

Photo Credit: Starbucks

 

The Key Player

What it all comes down to is that humans are taking the easy way and using single use objects rather than reusable products that take just a little longer to use or clean. There are many sustainable or reusable products that we can include in our daily lives to leave less of a negative footprint on this world. Take away mugs, metal containers for food, reusable shopping bags, the possibilities are endless. To learn more about these options, read my article next week as I try to live “Waste Free” for 5 days.