Daisy Chain | Plastic Waste

In the North of the Pacific Ocean, there is an island of floating rubbish twice the size of Texas and weighing about 3.5 Million tons. 80% of it is plastic. Hardly anyone mentions it because it’s out of sight, but it’s about time we started taking notice!

Research Topics
Read through the articles below and think about positive actions and solutions to the problem.

Now raise your voice! Share your solutions below in at least 250 words. Then pin your daisy and get your friends involved in the solution using the Facebook, Twitter and email links below. Together we can bring about a change in people’s actions by informing them about the consequences. Let’s see how long we can make this #daisychain!

When you’re done, how about tackling more topics and adding another daisy to the chain?

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77 thoughts on “Daisy Chain | Plastic Waste

  1. Purchase reusable products instead of disposables. This means less volume of waste in the landfill and more control over the materials purchased. This solution saves money by minimizing purchasing and waste disposal costs. Reusables can be used at every level of consumer from personal takeout containers to large conferences. Reusables should also be recycleable or compostable once they reach the end of their lifecycle. The main challenges are making reusables easily accessible and easy to clean for future use. This is where large scale institutions, businesses, and event planning services come into play. These organizations can provide industrial cleaning and logistical support that takes the burden of research and cleaning off of the hosts. Check out the UC Berkeley Chews to Reuse program and the UC Davis Aggieware program to see how a few universities are promoting reusable products. Look for vendors that use reusable serving equipment for your events. In your own life, eliminate single use bags, to-go containers, water bottles, personal care products, and packaging. Start with one single use product and find a viable alternative, then move onto the next one! You can find even more ideas at http://www.plasticfreeguide.com.

  2. The plastic campaign is possible and necessary. In order to ingrain the negative ideas of plastic, people need to be taught when their young. There needs to be holistic learning about environmentalism when children are in elementary schools. They need to understand, “Plastic is Forever,” not just a one time soda of the day. From lessons in school to creative art projects, young kids need to learn the consequences to using plastic on a daily basis. Knowing from an early age that plastic is harmful to public health and to the environment will allow them to have environmental ideas when they are older.

  3. Wachupgc said:

    Recently my high school has embarked on a mission to get rid of water bottle waste within the school by creating informative sculptures and posters to post around the school. We also have signed many many petitions online to get rid of water bottle vending machines that only serve to fuel the fire. We’re hoping to be able to sell school water bottles and install a filling station to encourage going reusable!

  4. Jake Walters said:

    I believe that the Plastic Free Campuses are a great idea. I agree that campuses throughout the country are some of the biggest users of plastic, and we need to find a better way to reduce that consumption. It will be extremely difficult to completely eliminate the use of plastic on campuses, but I do think that a great reduction in plastic use is well within reach. I like the steps that the initiative talked about using. It all starts with education. I think that many of us are not fully aware of the amount of pollution that plastic leads to. If the students had a better understanding of the effects of their actions, they would be more inclined rethink their usage of plastic and would become a stronger voice against it. Building up this strong voice amongst other students will help put pressure on campus administrators to consider a change in the types of products that they have available on the campus, for example plastic straws.

    Another thing that would really help would be investigating and finding out the numbers on how much plastic the campus is consuming. I think that after people see the effects of plastic, the next thing that would help persuade them to make a change would be seeing the statistics. I know that I personally have no clue how much plastic my campus uses. I do know that I see it lying all over the place, but putting a number on it would motivate me much more to make a change. After seeing the effects and the numbers, we could begin to formulate a plan for how to change towards a plastic free campus and make our community much more sustainable.

    • and make them also more responsible for their impact on pollution and excessive resource use with single-use plastics. Washington University, located in St. Louis, has banned the use of plastic bottles on campus…so it can be done with a bit of courage and a lot of motivation.

  5. Nicole Stevenson said:

    Plastic containers ad other plastic containing materials have become a huge component of our land fills. Worse yet as Annie Leonard documents in “The Story of Bottled Water” the plastic we do recycle may just end up on the other side of the world. Collecting in huge and unsightly piles these used bottles are an environmental nightmare. Over at BantheBottle.org, they are trying to get college students and other concerned citizens to take a stand against products like bottle water and to work towards plastic free campuses. They point out some steps you can take to reduce your consumption of plastics. Bottled water is one of the simplest problems to overcome. You don’t have to drink bottled water. Using purified water or even tap water in reusable containers instantly frees you from your bottled water habit. You remove all of the bad environmental effects of beverage containers by drinking water from a container. that you provide. You save money, carbon footprint, pollution and eliminate the energy associated with transporting the beverage from the equation. Its easy to start, so go ahead and try it.

    • remember all those soft drinks bottles too, many are also in plastic bottles like water.

  6. Anna Rhoads said:

    Kick the plastic habit, be awesome!
    The best solution, in my opinion, is through practicing the reduction of our plastic consumption patterns.
    This can be applied several ways.
    1. Look before you buy. Is there another product that is the same but has less or no plastic wrapping or plastic in it?
    2. BYOB-Not beer, bag! When you go grocery shopping bring your own re-usable bag. Bonus points if you can bring bags for produce as well.
    3. Go cold turkey for a day, week, month…even year? See how long you can go without purchasing something that contains plastic. Challenge your family and friends to do this along side you.

    After you’ve practiced your plastic reduction, spread the word to other people about reducing their plastic consumption. There are amazing resources out there, like the Story of Stuff, Teens Turning Green, and more.

  7. “When we start to understand the system, we start to see lots of places to step in and turn these problems into solutions.” -Annie Leonard

    I think a Plastic Free Campus is a completely tangible possibility. One of the major problems facing my school is awareness. To start our Take Back the Tap campaign, I want to begin to understand the system by engaging our creative, artistic community and creating a shocking water bottle (and other plastic goods) installation that will make people think about their single-use bottle consumption. The ultimate goal of the project is to measurably reduce plastic pollution on campuses around the world, with a special focus on the reduction and ultimately the elimination of plastic bottles, plastic straws and utensils, and plastic food packaging. I want to synthesize art with activism to create a change on campus and to start a dialogue about ending single-use bottle sales.

  8. Catherine said:

    Often People think that they don’t have to recycle because the other majority of the population will do it for them. However we need every person we can get to decrease our plastic pollution. If people kept on thinking this eventually everyone would be swimming in plastic as the plastic problem would be worse than it is right now. You may hear on the news that plastic is hurting the environment but people don’t see enough evidence to make a change only a small population do. People need to see more information that will really make them change their mind in order to make a change. Now what can we do about this? Well local grocery stores could send out one reusable bag to each household in order to decrease plastic bag pollution. These plastic bags are getting into the ocean and are hurting our animals’ not just turtles but animals that we consume. Do you want to eat a fish that had a plastic bottle in its stomach? Now you maybe be saying “Well this is just absurd stores will not want to do this!” Well With enough convincing they will. A local charity group, school or a scouting troop could raise money for the store to give out one reusable bag to people since store are stuck up with their amount of money. When enough people are committed to do something will definitely be changed. Of course there are many other ideas that we as society can do other than this one. Our imagination is endless.

    • I made a comment earlier about the decrease from 300 million plastic bags to 17.5 million in Ireland after the stores were forced by government to charge a small fee for every plastic bag handed out at the check-out. Good supermarkets then gave the money to charity. Sometimes it needs a bit of pain in the pocket to force sensible thinking.

  9. Ryan Carrillo said:

    Its a simple concept if people just desire a non plastic product, then all a person has to do is shop at places such as farmer markets and put produce into glass containers, instead; of plastic one and reuse the glass container whenever a person buys something. I believe if people spread awareness of using reusable resources instead of plastic people will be able to stop plastics wastes.

    • it is definitely encouraging the right kind of attitude to single-use plastics and the alternatives to pushing a trolley around a big brand store….also helps farmers to get a better deal by selling direct to their customers whilst the customer gets fresh from the farm…. look after the organic farmers too.

  10. Lindsay said:

    One solution that I think could be very effective would be to reduce the number of plastic bags used in grocery stores and shopping malls. These bags are not necessary and there are many alternatives to them. A way to encourage people not to use them is to give out reusable bags or paper bags. Also, charging customers for plastic bags could be an effective way to limit them. A simple step in the right direction that I’ve seen in stores is that they have started to ask if you even want a bag. This could be effective in shopping malls especially because sometimes you already have a purse or another bag that you could carry your items in. If it is totally necessary to get plastic bags, a good solution would be to reuse the bags for other purposes. They can also be recycled at many local grocery stores.

  11. Tulsi said:

    Some people tend to think they’ve done their Green Act of the Month when they recycle a bottle or reuse a bottle once. That’s just not enough. People need to realize there’s a literal island of trash collecting in every ocean in the world. The majority of it is plastic. Something that’s becoming a serious issue is the Pacific Gyre, where plastic trash is just circulating and collecting. These plastics are photodegrading and getting into ecosystems of sea animals. Plastics not only are around the fish, in them, too. Fish and sea animals are consuming plastics just because they look like something edible. This needs to stop, because it’s not only poisoning fish, but poisoning us, too. Since the fish eat the plastic, and we eat the fish, we are indirectly getting all of the chemicals in them. People need to be educated on this subject and become conscious of what is happening. If people started recycling avidly, it would reduce the amount of plastic bottles in the ocean. If people simply quit littering on the streets, there’d be no unsafe materials running into storm drains and into the ocean. The whole idea of “reduce, reuse, recycle” is something simple that people can follow to reduce plastic waste and plastic in the ocean. There are really many simple things people can do to waste much less plastic. It’s as simple as buying produce without packaging, or using reusable bags instead of plastic. It just takes some awareness.

  12. Alicia Stephania Brianna said:

    One solution that we have come up with is to completely get rid of plastic bags in groceries store or department stores. Replace them with paper bags or reusable bags. Getting rid of plastic bags in all stores, we will significantly reduce the use of plastic and the amount of plastic bags in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and even on streets. Another way to reduce plastic could be to stop making plastic bottles or disposable plastic things. For example, plastic bottles can be replaced with aluminum cans or bottles. Plastic packaging could be replaced as well. Stores that use plastic rap can be replaced with cloth or spandex so that the packages will not move around with Velcro to keep them together. . Another example would be to get rid of plastic packaging when possible. Plastic sandwich bags can be replaced with reusable Tupperware. Plastic utensils could be used less often by using silverware and other reusable utensils. Another solution we have is using reusable aluminum water bottles. Replacing plastic water bottles with a canteen can reduce the use of plastic drastically. Raise the price of CRV for bottles so that more people will be convinced to start using reusable water bottles or canteens. Water bottle packaging can also be replaced with cardboard so that the use of plastic packaging can be reduced. Finally, plastic plates can be replaced with porcelain plates. If disposable plates are completely needed, we can just use paper plates instead. Paper plates are a good replacement because they can be composted to reduce waste.

    • reuse, reuse, reuse and refuse. Charging for plastic bags in Ireland reduced their proliferation. Plastic bag use in Northern Ireland may have fallen by more than 80% since the introduction of a levy earlier this year. 17.5 million single-use carrier bags were dispensed by retailers between 8 April and 30 June. It is estimated that 300 million carrier bags were used in NI in 2012. 17.5 million is still a lot, but it demonstrates that shoppers can do without plastic and can take canvas to the shops :)

  13. Heily Colindres said:

    Plastics are horrible for the environment. Plastic does not biodegrade it just gets broken down by sunlight into little pieces. Creatures that live in the ocean mistake these little pieces of plastic for food. They eat this plastic which is very harmful to them because it contains many chemicals that affects their reproduction system and disrupt the way of hormones in them. Is also is poisonous and blocks their digestive system and causes them to internally bleed out. Since little fish and other organisms each the little pieces of plastic and then bigger fish eat them and the food chain goes n until eventually we eat the fish which means we eat the plastic they ate. There is an island of floating waste twice the size of Texas and most of that waste is plastic. There are alternatives to using plastics. Instead of using plastic bags when you go grocery shopping you could use reusable bags that aren’t made of plastic or baskets. Also instead of using bags for containers you could use jars and use them again and again. We could also spread the word by telling others and tell them to use less plastic bags and use reusable bags that are ecofriendly.

    • Heily Colindres said:

      Environmental Charter High School

      • and remember Heily to make sure that you inform yourself about how products are made, what materials they use, many products incorporate plastic in their products that you might not suspect as being plastic. Try to encourage your friends to change their thinking away from seeing stuff as waste and more as a resource and to value resources as a diminishing reserve. Even uneaten food can be used to generate electricity in today’s biomass burners.

  14. Emily Behnke said:

    I think one of the biggest contributions to the issue of plastic waste is, as is the case with many other environmental problems, the lack of exposure to it on people’s daily radars. Students today might watch an environmental documentary in class or have to do some research on the subject, but I know firsthand that those few instances may resonate in most students’ minds for only minutes after exposure. I think Natracare is absolutely right when it says that we–the people who do naturally care about the waste issue even just after watching a documentary– need to become a nuisance in the lives of those who feel like they have bigger priorities. While the impact of one documentary or one infographic may only last a short time in their minds, a consistent bombardment of information about plastic waste will mean that people can’t ignore the truth any longer. The truth about plastic waste should be advertised as heavily as are the products using plastic so that people can’t just forget what their purchases are doing; they can’t just push the truth to the back of their mind: if they see it all the time, they have to own up to it. I once saw an episode of Oprah on the Pacific Ocean waste dump. That was probably five years ago, and I haven’t seen any more exposure of it since then. I think the plastic-consuming world needs some more PSAs or other green advertisements so that they both know this is an issue and aren’t allowed to forget about it. Because of its prevalence in our society, plastic consumption seems impossible to avoid. But it’s not: it’s a choice, and people should know that.

    • That is absolutely right Emily and taking part in PGC is one of the best ways to become informed by challenging the status quo and then taking the message out to each and every friend you have. They may act on it now or into the future when the impact is so imposing that there is no other choice. Making products better is the most obvious move and we as consumers can make that happen as we come more informed which means asking questions and to keeping asking why. I gave this link to Eryn and I think you will see what I mean by taking action based on being informed from this campaign originating here in the UK http://bit.ly/Qgl5Ua getting people involved in seeing the research will help to change mindset too. The Algalita Marine Research Institute is doing great work but typically, it is a charity doing its best when it should be state funded here’s their link if you want to learn more about the research they are doing http://www.algalita.org/index.php

  15. Eryn Russell said:

    Annie Leonard (Story of Stuff) has it right: our society creates goods that are designed to be thrown away quickly and we are granted the ability to replace it quicker. The more I participate in Project Green Challenge the more I am learning about waste. One day, I collected all of my waste for that day and was shocked at the amount of things I throw away without thinking about it. Why am I throwing so much away? Because products are made for quantity not quality. It’s easy to buy a bottle of water at the store and not feel bad about throwing it away… Because there are trash cans conveniently placed for our benefit. As I learn more, I question others. I didn’t know much about waste before PGC and I am curious to see what others know. No offense to the people I asked, but they knew squat. But I was like that too. In order to implement change, I can’t just tell someone to buy a reusable bottle instead of a plastic one. They need to know why and the importance of the switch. I can’t name one person who wants to trash the Earth but we are raised blind to the impact we have. Education is the first step to change and I am trying to educate my school on waste and how to stop it.

    • Keep going Eryn and change will happen. The problem is that corporations want society to consume more and marketing is made ever more impactful on our choices, manipulating us and interrupting our own instincts to ask why. The idea that the world has endless resources is a myth and many suffer direct impacts to make consumers who can consume consume more. The products we love – from our smartphones to our soft drink – have devastating impacts all over the world. Natracare loves the Friends of the Earth’s Make It Better campaign, calling for tough new rules to make companies come clean about the full impact of their products – whether they are smartphones, chocolates or coke. check the link here http://bit.ly/Qgl5Ua

  16. Katie Taylor said:

    While we sit here worrying about our daily lives, there is a huge “plastic island” growing every day in the middle of the ocean. We need to do something about this and fast. People think that if they just recycle a bottle maybe once a month or use a reusable water bottle every once in a while, that they are doing their part in helping this situation get better. But no, they aren’t. To fix this problem, we all need to make a lifestyle change. Instead of recycling a bottle whenever you think about it, make it a habit to recycle plastic items every day. Instead of using a reusable water bottle whenever you feel like it, make it a routine to use it every day. Don’t waste plastic when you have another option. Also, instead of just making this lifestyle change for yourself, encourage your family to join in. If we can get everyone to stop using so much plastic, to recycle, and share the changes they are making with everyone, we as a whole can make a difference.

    • Remember also to check out those products that are made with plastic materials that may not look like plastic. Doing your own research before buying is the only way to take responsibility as a consumer to stop the march of pollution out into our oceans and the sources of our drinking water. Those plastic films leach chemicals into our water and impact on the fish and marine life that lives in the oceans. That’s food and water for the planet. check out our video (ignore any ads at the start) http://bit.ly/GF05DM

  17. Emi LaFountain said:

    There is a plastic garbage island floating around in the Pacific that is twice the size of Texas, and that’s not even the only one.
    Just let that sink in for a bit.
    Don’t think the plastic you use ends up any differently. 10% of all plastics produced end up in the oceans and pollute our ecosystem. We are all responsible for making this 10% never gets there. We can do our part and cut back on our plastics output by refusing plastic bags at the supermarket, always carrying a reusable bottle with us, buying our food in bulk, having a plastic-free Christmas one year, refusing zip-lock baggies, and going for biodegradable container alternatives. For example, instead of opting for a plastic cup at a party, a plastic that is rarely recyclable, bring our own glass of stainless steel cups that you can wash off. Not only does this save plastic, but this save you money!

    • I guess that society has become used to having so much that to throw stuff away is not seen as a loss…that is until we run out of that resource or lose the ability to produce it any longer. It is smart to re-use what is purposefully made. Having the same attitude all year around will open your eyes to all the many possibilities to avoid not only the obvious plastics, but also those that are made of huge percentages of plastic that you may not even have realised was plastic!

  18. Katrina Knauer said:

    Plastics are indeed forever, however, one must remembered that when plastics were initially designed that was the whole point! Polymer scientist discovered plastics, which are actually quite remarkable materials when one considers the science behind them, and the idea was that plastics would replace metals in aerospace and transportation industries to create light-weight materials and this cut back on fuel consumption (almost 80% of your vehicles these days are made of plastic composites significantly decreasing their weight!). However, big industries took over plastics and made them the number one waste product in the world and that is the sad part. Something that could have been good was taken and exploited. Now we have huge plastic manufacturing plants that use petroleum to generate millions on pounds of plastic and we have people using a water bottle and throwing it away, when the whole point of that water bottle is that it IS reusable and will last ultimately forever. I think that is the solution to the problem, for people to actually realize that PLASTICS ARE FOREVER, so the bottom line is DON’T THROW THEM AWAY! Also, people should do research to find out more about where their plastic comes from and try and make better decisions based one that. For instance, new companies are developing that utilize a fermentation polymerization process to produce poly(lactic acid) which is a natural, biodegradable plastic that is starting to replace plastics used today. Fermentation polymerization is a natural process that utilizes natural enzyme and bacteria from soil to induce polymerization and generate polymers (aka plastics). If we support for companies like these we can one day be rid of the plastic waste that is such a big problem right now and also decrease the pollution generated for plastic production!

    • That is a lot of information I hope others will share. Natracare has used biobased films since 1995 and I can say that the technology is getting cheaper and there are more manufacturers switching to this type of plant film. Using renewable materials that biodegrade and compost back into the carbon cycle is the best option. Check out this link http://www.cereplast.com/bioplastics/what-are-bioplastics-2/

  19. Kendra Barker said:

    While disposing of waste is a problem, that isn’t ultimately what causes that large floating mass of plastic waste in the middle of the ocean. The fact that we should recycle our plastic waste is an issue that has been and is being more heavily acknowledged; however, the question is: how does all of that waste end up in the middle of the ocean? It’s not having plastic waste that’s the problem. It’s not knowing how to dispose of it properly and safely. The carelessness and ignorance of people is what leads to this mass of waste in the ocean. Spreading the word about carelessness in disposing plastic waste is key. If everyone knew the effect of leaving one water bottle after a day at the beach, vs. disposing of it properly in a recycling bin, or even a recycling center, the impact could be immense.

    • Also Kendra, trying not to use plastic bottled water as those bottles have to go somewhere eventually. Perhaps invest in a BPA-free re-usable water bottle or a stainless steel bottle and a water filter so you can refill instead. Might also be good lateral thinking to consider recategorising the word waste to be “Resource” instead and then we will find ways to use again instead of sending to the trash. Plant-based “plastic” materials are now more widely available and should be BIODEGRADABLE and COMPOSTABLE so that they are reabsorbed by natures life cycle. Degradable does not do this, it just means that the product breaks apart but it never becomes part of the carbon cycle….it stays unchanged forever.

  20. Joshua Song said:

    I think that we should find a creative method in order to facilitate the decomposition of plastics. One avenue of potential research would be bioremediation, which is the use of biological organisms in order to fix environmental problems. We should try to create microorganisms that eat plastic in order to make sure that we do not leave a trace on the environment.

  21. Eliza Sheffield said:

    It’s pretty shameful how plastic products are so heavily promoted in our consumer society while their environmental impacts are downplayed. I think that advertising plays a huge role in the plastic process: If we transitioned to less money-minded, more earth-minded advertising, the public would become more aware and concerned with the problem of plastic. As a result, consumer habits would shift to be more eco-friendly. Companies would notice and be forced to become more eco-friendly based on the demand of the consumers.

  22. Eliza Sheffield said:

    It’s pretty shameful how plastic products are so heavily promoted in our consumer society while their environmental impacts are downplayed. I think that advertising plays a huge role in the plastic process: If we transitioned to less money-minded, more earth-minded advertising, the public would become more aware and concerned with the problem of plastic. As a result, consumer habits would shift to be more eco-friendly. Companies would notice and be forced to become more eco-friendly based on the demand of the consumers.

  23. yagal said:

    One of the small solutions I can think of is starting/signing petitions on Change.org. I have signed quite a few petitions that asked various companies to stop using certain materials in their business. After receiving 150,000+ signatures, majority of them change their practices.

  24. Ginger Yu said:

    The issue of plastic waste ties in with Project Green Challenge’s focus on Story of Stuff yesterday. Our society is designed to want throwaway goods for their convenience and apparent cheapness. However, the true environmental cost of producing these goods is not reflected on their price tags. The toxic chemicals used in making them, the wastes produced by factories, and the environmental degradation due to the disposal of these plastics are all ignored. To reduce plastic waste, we must change how we perceive these conveniences. Many people use them because they’re cheap and easy. Change prices to reflect the TRUE cost of using them, and make it cheaper to use reusable items. For example, Bing Bing and I both use plastic bags to bring lunch in because they’re convenient, in stock at our house, and work well. They’re in stock because our mothers buy them for the affordable performance. By changing the prices, our mothers would buy fewer bags, and we would consequently use less plastic. By forcing consumers to consider what they’re really paying for, we can reduce plastic waste. We must also enact more stringent governmental regulations towards littering and pollution. I’m pretty sure that there’s a fine in the state of Florida for littering on public roads, and I know for a fact that there is a $5,000 fine for littering in the Everglades (because it’s a protected area). But who enforces these laws? I see people throw trash out of their windows all of the time, but it’s not like there are police officer monitoring the roads. These laws are misguided in that they are fundamentally unenforceable. The revenue generated by enforcing these fines would not be enough to pay for the police officers needed. Instead, make companies pay for cleaning up trash. By taxing them, the price of these goods is also driven up, and consumers have less of an incentive to buy them and throw them away irresponsibly. Change starts with education.

  25. Kriti Sharma said:

    I must admit that it is very difficult to make a difference alone, or in just one school. However, if you collaborate with your friends and classmates and empower them to reduce waste and usage of plastic items, and instead encourage them to reuse items and use cloth or wooden items instead, you can truly make a difference by petitioning to ban plastic water bottles (the un-reusable ones) and instead only use reusable, sturdy water bottles. Furthermore, starting a SEAS (Student Environmental Action Society) club or the like in your school is a good way to attract fellow classmates who are interested in protecting the planet and educating others about how to do so. Everyday objects such as plastic utensils, liquid soap bottles, plastic bags, and un-reusable straws can be easily cut down with the minimal expenses of reusing eating utensils instead of buying more plastic forks and knives, buying bar soap(which is cheaper in bulk), using cloth bags (as is already enfored in the city of San Jose, California, and buying a good, (even twisty, if you like) sturdy straw that you can keep in your lunchbox. These little things will truly be better for you economically, will inspire others to follow in your footsteps, and will definitely help the world become a greener place. Also, the landfills that we currently have are quite filled up, and it’s difficult to find more space in which to create a landfill. Burning the trash simply allows emissions to pollute the atmosphere, affecting our health. Dumping trash in the ocean is also a terrible option, as it can contaminate the seafood we eat, the beaches we swim in, and can destroy innocent animal lives. Therefore, it is the most logical solution to simply reduce our trash. If there’s no trash to get rid of, nothing gets hurt in the process of trash removal. We can save money and resources, and continue to be innovative, creative, intelligent human beings for several years to come. ALSO- THE NATURAL GAS HELIUM IS IN FACT RUNNING OUT! PLEASE DO NOT PURCHASE HELIUM BALLOONS AS THEY ARE DEPLETING A VERY IMPORTANT ELEMENT THAT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO SYNTHESIZE AND IS VERY IMPORTANT IN MULTIPLE FIELDS OF SCIENCE. Thanks, guys! :)

  26. Peter Worley said:

    It was noted that cafeteria’s in Primary and Secondary schools in the United States contribute significantly to the plastic waste epidemic. Every day students eat their lunch and throw away plastic trays along with plastic utensils along with plastic food wrapping and along with plastic bottles. Plastic, Plastic, Plastic. I think implementing a program to help schools switch from plastics to more sustainable cafeteria options could be a three pronged relief movement.
    Schools should switch to using permanent trays made of bioplastics (such as corn based), true silverware (made of metal not plastic), biodegradable food packaging, and permanent cups made of bioplastics. Schools would then wash the utensils, trays, and cups like did in the good ole days. It worked back then, it can work today too. To avoid excessive water waste, schools could use safe washing chemicals and divert the washing water out to their local garden beds. First, this would help our environment now by stopping large amounts of non biodegradable products from littering our ecosystems.
    Secondly, this would help the future of the schools. The program would provide schools with strong data on how much money they would save from moving away from endless purchases of plastic products to long lasting products. Moving away from plastic would help the school financially, which would be extremely appealing during the current financial struggle. It would also help the school attract top students because they can prove to families they are leading the way in sustainability.
    Thirdly, this would help the future of our society. The program would introduce students at a young age to the importance of sustainability. Students will grow up understanding the importance of sustainability and realizing its necessity, feasibility, and success because of what they see in the cafeteria every day.

  27. What we can do about the plastic waste is for one not to litter. It doesnt break down in the animals body and it controls the hormones in the animals body. We can also stop putting plastic in the ground. It brings off a gas that is harmful for an animal and its highly toxic. We need to stop hurting the oceans, land, and the earth because it’ll kill all the animals in the ocean and the land animals and it can also hurt us. The more plastic we put in the earth, the more were gonna hurt our earth. The animals that eat the plastic, the plastic can cause them internal bleeding and can also kill them.

  28. Samantha said:

    Today at school, we actually watched a video on bottled water vs. tap water. One of the primary points discussed was the use of plastic in bottled water. Afterwards, my teacher asked if we would start using reusable bottles, and I was happy to see most of the class interject that they already did. Some of my classmates, however, were stubborn and said they would continue using plastic water bottles. This is one of the problems we face: people aren’t willing to change their ways. They are so accustomed to the way they live that they don’t want to change. And I’ll admit: I’m like this in several ways too.
    The reason plastic is such a big problem is that it’s cheap and it works for so many purposes. Thus, the manufacturers will continue to use it in their products and we, the consumers, will continue to buy it and use it. We really need to make an effort to actively recycle and reuse. Most importantly, we need to stop buying so many products that contain plastic and find alternatives. We need to spread these ideas and encourage others to join us.
    What really astonished me when reading these articles was the floating island of garbage, mostly plastic, in the Pacific. I looked it up and found out it’s called the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” The knowledge that there is a giant mass of plastic waste floating in our ocean greatly disturbs me. Aside from this patch, there is so much more plastic waste dispersed in our oceans and Earth. I’ll tell my friends and family about the Patch, because it might have the effect on them that it had on me. Sadly, people need to hear painful facts like this to get them thinking.

  29. Holly Larkin said:

    To reduce plastic waste we should starting charging people more to use it. Charge a tax in grocery stores whenever people don’t bring reusable bags. Use resources that you can compost instead of plastic. If someone throws something away that can be recycled, give them a big fine. Raise the prices of oil so people are forced to look at new methods past plastic. Also, focus more energy on spreading awareness of plastic. Most people don’t know about the plastic island. I bet things would be different if everyone did.

  30. Getting rid of plastic is more than just throwing away some plastic water bottles. Plastics are in our binders, books. food utensils and even what we use to support our schools (shakers, pom poms). This can be all replaced with zero plastic materials. We don’t even have to replace it if it’s too big of a deal. Just use less plastic or use more reusable things (silverware, on-line school materials, etc).

  31. Haley said:

    In order to reduce plastic waste, I think that recycling should be required by law. If that’s too extreme for some countries, we should do like some states and charge ten cents per bottle when you buy anything in plastic and people can get that money back when they return the bottles to be recycled. Better yet, we could switch back to glass bottles like they used to have. That would reduce plastic usage and encourage reusing!

  32. Plastic seems on the surface like a genius invention. It can be made into all different shapes, sizes, thicknesses, and durabilities. We use plastic in all aspects of our daily lives because it is cheap to produce and relatively effective as a material. What we fail to consider, however, are the consequences of the production of this material. Plastic was not a natural resource that we dug out of the ground – it was made from toxic chemicals to be durable and non-degradable. And since plastic is so often used as a “disposable” material to package goods or comprise a one-time-use product, we are throwing away plastic items more often than any other material. This is a huge discrepancy – why would a material whose purpose is arguable to be disposed of be designed NOT to decompose? Regardless of whether or not it makes sense, it is the truth and we need to start facing this truth rather than ignoring it. Thousands of pounds of plastic are thrown away everyday. Out of sight, out of mind? Not exactly – this plastic doesn’t just disappear when it goes into your trash bin. It’s taken to a landfill and dumped in areas where animals are forced to interact with it. This manmade product wasn’t definitely not designed with animals in mind. Consumed plastic waste often causes premature death in animals who wind up poisoned once the toxic chemicals are released from the plastic, or physically damaged from sharp and undigestible pieces clogging their digestive tracts. Plastic also causes mortality when animals, especially marine life, get caught or tangled in plasticky death traps.
    So what can we do to stop this ever-growing pile of plastic refuse? We can start by reducing our consumption of plastic goods. On a personal level you can refuse to purchase or use plastic as often as possible. Don’t use a plastic fork when you can use a metal one. Don’t use a plastic bottle when you can use a ceramic mug. Don’t let the cashier pile your groceries into a plastic bag, but bring your own cloth bag instead. You can also reuse plastic as often as possible. Although it can release harmful toxics after a while when it begins to breakdown, plastic doesn’t necessarily NEED to be a one-time-use material. Many people own BPA-free water bottles that they can use thousands of times over again. Should neither of those be an option, however, always recycle. Recycling plastic is one way to avoid it ending up in a landfill and hurting wildlife. Although most plastic can’t be 100% recycled, it will cut down on the amount that is dumped as waste – which in the long term can add up to a lot of savings.
    Just because YOU are done with plastic, doesn’t mean the Earth is. Try to increase your line of sight to include those downstream impacts of your footprint.

  33. Aislinn Krautwurst said:

    If there are people all across the world that are into a green world why are the results taking so long to show up? We need to be the solution, not the problem. It’s so easy to go out and get reusable bags, BPA free water bottles, and to even find containers around the house to reuse. As a solution I suggest that instead of constantly giving into the plastic monster; we should refuse to buy water bottles and use BPA free Nalgene’s or Camelbaks. Instead of using plastic ware around the house, glass containers and stainless steel containers are best that way they can’t leak harmful chemicals into our food. As well, we should shop with organic, plastic-free, reusable bags every time we go shopping because is it really worth it to get that plastic bag, which just ends up in the garbage, then in some landfill and/or the ocean? Living by the ocean I see first-hand the tragedy unfolding in the water. So often during the summer I see plastic bags, water bottles, bottles of soda, candy wrappings and just all sorts of crap wash up. There is a line of garbage on our beach that no one cleans up. This is what plastic is doing to our earth and so often people ignore it. “Someone else will get it” they say. NO! If we don’t get moving it may be too late. Our Earth is fragile and slowing deteriorating beneath our fingers. So go out and get reusable bags and Nalgene’s!!!

  34. Maya said:

    Plastic products are a huge problem on our planet today. In fact, it takes about 1000 years for a plastic product to completely decompose! This means that our landfills are getting filled with plastic products which are NOT biodegradable. Plastic products are also landing in the ocean, where they are collected in a huge island that weighs about 3.5 million tons. Wow! That’s about 7000 pounds! But these plastic products are greatly affecting the surrounding ecosystem. Marine animals approach the dump looking for a “treat”, and accidentally swallow something that they are not supposed to eat. Thousands of birds and fish are dying because they eat these plastic products and choke. So, we should reduce, reuse, and recycle our plastic products. Most plastic products are recyclable, and this would prevent them from going to the landfills or ocean. Reduce by buying biodegradable products (instead of plastic) that can easily decompose no matter where they are thrown away. Reuse by using your plastic bags again – maybe you can use them as laundry bags or to carry your extra book to school. Recycle your plastics so that they don’t end up on beaches or other public places. Always recycle plastic forks, spoons, and plates. If your campus does not have a recycling program already, start one! Go on Coastal Clean Ups, and pick up trash whenever you see it. The Earth will greatly appreciate every effort you make.We cannot destroy our only planet – so make sure to never throw plastic products away.

  35. Zoe Moskwa said:

    Plastic waste is an issue overlooked by millions of Americans everyday! I feel that the majority of Americans do not know, care, or care to know how their actions effect the environment. People are in this constant mindset of “buy, buy, buy” yet when they are done with their product it is out of sight out of mind. Do people really think the waste just disappears once it is in the trash can? This is the problem with the American understanding of waste and how it effects the planet. People need to be educated and have this information available almost anywhere. People should not have to search for ways to get involved, get a recycling bin, or find out what is compostable; it should be easily accesible. I want consumers and producers both to think of the best way to make/dispose of the product while having the environment in mind. Down with plastic!

  36. Danae said:

    Plastic are a major issue in the planet and the most important thing to do is Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. it will be along time before there is any form of being able to get rid of these plastic materials considering, that anything that is man-made means the use of more chemicals. Whenever we can, it’s best to not use products with as much plastic that is not required. If there is plastic waste at your local beach, or your neighborhood, just pick it up! Grab a piece of paper, grab something to pick it up and throw it away. Simple things like these will prevent any dog, cat, squirrel, animal, and etc, to be found in a dangerous situation. But it is not only about animals, it’s about people too! If those little bits of plastic are left in the ground with no one to pick up after it, it will go into our waters, and if they go into our waters, they affect marine life as well as human life. Not only does it pose a threat to small creatures, it poses a threat to the kids at the beach, the parents, grandparents… pretty much the whole family! Let’s do our part and pick up a piece of trash! And if possible try and buy anything that is biodegradable. Reduce your use, Reuse your old product containers, and Recycle when you have no use for your containers/products, etc.

  37. Ilana Schnaufer said:

    Plastics are awful for the environment, in ways you may not have thought of. Not only do animals mistake them for food, and they are not biodegradable, but if they start to degrade or corrode they release toxic chemicals into the air or into the body of the being that ate them. Also, plastics that group together in the ocean absorb toxic chemicals, and sponges grow on them. When these are eaten by fish, the fish absorb the chemicals, and toxins make their way up to the food chain to us. So what can we do to change this? To start with, people can simply use less plastics. Try to buy things made of other materials that can be reused. If you do buy plastics, make sure to recycle them, or buy bioplastic or plastic made of recycled material. Look for any alternative to plastic products to lessen the amount that makes its way into landfills and the ocean.

  38. Kreena Patel said:

    In my private school, we are recycling plastics, paper, and lot more. We are probably going to start composting this year for our school garden. They’re recycling bins next to most if not all trash cams in my school. But, i think more can be done. If we all help and recycle, then we could help make the world cleaner and more efficient.

  39. Andrew Gottlieb said:

    We need to raise awareness on this topic too. It might be hard to clean up what is already there, but we can prevent it from keeping it ongoing. People should no longer throw away plastic in the trash. If there was a recycling bin next to every trash can, then people should throw the plastic in there. This would prevent the water to being polluted with plastic, and we can help sustain the environment.

  40. katrina knauer said:

    Let me start by saying that I am a polymer scientist, which basically means I work with plastic for the most part. And I completley agree that the plastic waste it out of control! But, please keep in mind that we are not trying to be the bad guys. We are constantly trying to make polymers better and more environmentally friendly. The only reason polymers even came to life is because we were trying to mimic mother nature. When rubber was first discovered it came from a tree. We simply studied the tree and manipulated the design to create synthetic rubber. So, I don’t think we were quite ready for how quickly polymers took off. The plastic island in the pacific is appaling, but what people don’t understand is that theme polymers are meant to last forever! That is the whole point….they are not designed to be thrown away but to be reused indefinitely. But nevertheless, the less plastic you use the better. Don’t buy bulk bottled water, drink from the tap!! Or invest in a sturdy reusable water bottle. Also, get some cloth grocery bags. Just keep repeating to yourself every time you’re dealing with plastic REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE!!

  41. Connor Jacobson said:

    Heres some thing that we could do! We could go into the ocean and take the plastics that are already there (the toxin free ones of course) and engineer them into a coral reef type of ecosystem. Seeing as plastic is so durable and stubborn the artificial ecosystem should be able to last for years and years and hopefully help promote biodiversity in places that it is declining rapidly (i.e. everywhere). As there is a major problem with the decline of coral reefs which create habitats for numerous marine organisms the plastic habitat would hopefully be able to counter balance the decline of the coral reef so there wouldn’t be such a drastic effect on the ecosystem as a whole.

  42. Ethel Liao said:

    I really think one of the biggest campaigns I can work towards is to gradually eliminate the use of one-use plastic water bottles for all of my campus’ events! I can even start small and target specific groups that I have direct connections with—the Campus Honors Program, the College of Business, my dorm—to pledge to stop bringing in plastic water bottles for their events, build a better network for those who agree with the value of eliminating one-use plastic water bottles, and then expand our influence from there. The step after that would be to eliminate disposable plastic utensils, cups, and plates at events; it really doesn’t take much effort at all to wash metal, ceramic, or glass utensils, cups, and plates! At this point, though, I’ll be taking one issue at a time and starting with simply working towards eliminating one-use plastic water bottles.
    As for personal actions I can take, I will definitely start bringing reusable bags whenever I go grocery shopping. This is a particularly great action to take, I think, because I can easily spread this habit to the roommates I will be living with next year in an apartment as well as my own family when I do go shopping with them, which will then continue to disseminate throughout the people my roommates, friends, and family come in contact with. If there is less and less demand for the thin plastic shopping bags to be available at grocery stores overall they will begin to realize how non-essential such bags are!

    • Susie Hewson said:

      A most positive and practical solution and a wonderful pledge Ethel. Look out for those products also made from lots of plastic that cannot be recycled and end up in landfill or incinerated.

  43. Taylor Steiner said:

    The obvious answer is to reduce, reuse, recycle. First we could start by avoiding buying plastic materials, opt for the glass alternatives with less toxins and less disposability. The things that we do buy plastic, we can reuse. Such as refilling plastic bottles and reusing plastic take out containers. The things we can’t void buying and serve no purpose reusing, we can recycle. As of lately, every kind of plastic is recyclable. Recycling bins are free. It’s no more difficult than throwing it away.

  44. Megan J said:

    Stop giving the option of plastic bags and start requiring people to bring their own reusable bags- that’s definitely a store I would start going to! It is important to educate people on how to make more sustainable choices but with the situations we are facing we cannot afford to offer options to people that are not sustainable. Remove the options for bottled water and plastic bags and individually-wrapped products and we could make a great reduction in our plastic waste!

  45. Kari said:

    We could make recycling mandatory, and take away plastic shopping bags. Get people together to help clean oceans and clean the earth so we can start reusing plastic and stop making more plastic. We are drowning in our own trash and it needs to stop.

  46. Alison said:

    I like to think that I’m well educated about the hazards of waste on our environment, so I was actually very surprised to find out about a waste island that I had never heard of before! That’s not only horrible for the planet, but also for the humans living here who have NO IDEA just how bad things have gotten. We are constantly fed the idea that we need more stuff, and that we need to just replace the stuff that we already have. That’s not true. It’s wasteful, and it’s clearly making a huge impact. I keep all of my plastic bags so that I can, at the very least, re-use them as garbage bags. Every time I go shopping, I chastise myself for not bringing reusable bags. My plastic pile grows and grows every day. It’s time to take initiative and stop this. Even if it’s just in my household today, it will make a difference tomorrow.

  47. Jon Smeton said:

    It is time we stop only talking about recycle and reuse and start at the source. This isn’t a problem of resources, its a problem of resourcefulness and we are too smart a people to not meet this challenge. Instead of polluting our oceans, our lands, and our bodies with toxicants, we need to transition to a plastic-free society.

    • Susie Hewson said:

      I am totally with you on this Jon…can we all start along the road to this today? Making products better is also another positive way forward instead of relying on consumers to have to become informed in order to avoid the polluting stuff – whilst manufacturers continue to bilge out toxic waste, products that cannot easily be recycled that are also made from raw materials that are extracted causing massive local and global pollution and enslaving nations of poor and young to reach a cheap price tag. It is you PGC students who can also become the engineers and product developers of the future that can start to help make the change. Susie Hewson Natracare

  48. Annie said:

    Plastic Waste is an important issue because it affects the entire planet and all of its inhabitants including humans, animals, and plants. I think the main reason why this is an ongoing problem is because people do not have enough knowledge about the subject of plastic waste. Everyone understands that it is an issue that is harming our planet but no one really understands the magnitude. I think that people just need to be educated so that everyone will be well informed. After this, people will finally see how they are treating the planet and things should start improving.

  49. Plastic waste is an extremely relevant and detrimental issue in the world today. Not only does the production of plastic release numerous harmful gases into the environment, the effects it has as a product are insurmountable. There are a plethora of plastic products that are discarded after a single use, which then go to landfills or the bottom of the ocean. These products are not biodegradable, meaning they do not break down naturally. When consumed by fish, animals, or God forbid humans, plastic cannot be metabolized or broken down by the body. However, the chemicals present in plastic still wreak havoc on the consumer’s body, releasing chemicals that are absorbed by body tissue. This not only entails that our bodies can be infected and contaminated by these products, but also that the very food on our plates may be contaminated due to our own plastic disposal. We are hell-bent on disposables to such a degree that we have forgotten how to wash dishes and use old-fashioned, reusable water bottles. We have forgotten how life was before everything was manufactured with convenience in mind. It is time that we retrieve that knowledge from memory and refer back to it in order to keep our environment healthy and safe for all who reside within. It is truly unfortunate that our world is in such disarray, from our water supply to our landfills. By making simple decisions such as using reusable water bottles and paper or linen grocery bags, we make a tremendous difference in the lives of ourselves and those around us. We dispose of needles appropriately because they have the potential to be contaminated with blood-borne pathogens, yet we neglect the severity and possible contamination of our everyday items, throwing them away as if we will never see them again. Our ignorance will surely be our demise.

  50. Isabel C. Huerta said:

    ‘Out of sight, out of mind is NOT a healthy way to deal with any problem, especially not plastic waste. For plastic, out of sight means that it is in someone or something else’s sight, ruining their ecosystem, and out of mind means that we are neglecting people, animals, and the earth. Be mindful about plastic waste and the health of others if nothing else.’