Trying to Rethink Plastic

Taylor Pedicone Staff Writer In elementary school, we bought pencils. In middle school, we bought led to refill our mechanical pencils. In high school, forget the lead, we just buy more mechanical pencils.  How did this happen?  When did we stop refilling our pencils and start tossing them into the trash when the run out? It has become second nature for us to be so unconsciously wasteful, and we should try and stop it. Pencils are simply one example of the many items we use and throw out on the day-to-day basis at Latin.  Other items include, but are certainly not limited to, paper of all kinds, plastic bottles, plastic bags, food wrappers, disposable eating utensils, batteries, and cups.  The most detrimental of that waste is plastic, since it is nearly impossible to break down.  Plastic is a useful resource, when it is used in long lasting products, such as cars, refrigerators, playground equipment, etc. However, in items of disposable convenience, it is deadly – deadly to our world’s people, animals, and environment.  So why is it such a large part of our lives if it is so dangerous? The answer is a sort of dependency syndrome.  We now live in a disposable society where wastefulness is accepted as the norm.  The majority of people in the world, including Latin, seem to have the idea that if we throw something away, it goes away.  Waste, especially plastic waste, never goes away.  It either sits in a landfill, winds up in the street, or clogs the planet’s resources, like the oceans. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is larger than the state of Texas, sits in a gyre of the ocean. This plastic is estimated to kill over one million seabirds1 and one hundred thousand marine animals alone each year.  And if that’s not striking enough, many of these fish with plastic in their bodies are unknowingly purchased by restaurants, possibly to become the sushi that many love. This fish, when consumed by the human body, emits plastic chemicals causing cancer, infertility, and endocrine system failure, to name a few. However, we can turn around this plastic disaster through being mindful of our waste. Latin has been trying to eradicate plastic from our school for the past couple years with great success. By removing plastic water bottles, and replacing all plastic utensils with compostable ones, we have really helped to do our part in decreasing the plastic plague. When we walk into the cafeteria, we see adults sitting at tables with their tumbler cups and metal silverware, but when we look at each other, many of us have paper cups and the disposable utensils. It’s a bit shocking that our generation is supposed to be changing the world for the better yet we are often choosing the worse option.  We can’t help but wonder why is this? The reason offered by many is that students feel that the silverware and tumbler cups are dirty. Lots of kids do not trust that the dishes are properly sanitized. This is unfortunate because people like Brad Newman, our executive chef from Quest Foods, work incredibly hard to ensure that we have a safe, and environment friendly option.  The sanitation in our school’s cafeteria is excellent.  There is a thorough process that all dishes go through in order to be offered for use.  The school can assure us that we are using clean dishes and silverware.  And though compostable utensils are a good alternative, they are not a long-term solution.  We should try to only use them for take-out food. If we could be more meticulous in following the guidelines that have already been set by Latin, as well as more thoughtful with our disposable waste, together, we would monumentally help our planet. The first step is using the tumblers, the metal silverware, and taking the extra flight of stairs up or down to the cafeteria to recycle our plastic bottles. And since were on the topic of reusing, why not try and refill those pencils. 1.]]>