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Plastic pollution: How international students can help

Trinity College Foundation Studies

Tue Sep 25 2018

JBER turns landfill gas into energy

Every year, our plastic waste accumulates and creates a huge negative impact on the environment. According to the Plastics Fact Sheet, in Australia, 3 million tonnes of plastic is produced every year. A large amount of this plastic makes it way to the landfill and sea, hurting and killing the wildlife such as turtles, birds, and dolphins.

While the responsibility falls upon all to lessen their plastic usage, it can be hard to convince some when the effects of plastic pollution cannot be seen. Because of this, throwing away a plastic bag may seem like it has little consequence, but it actually contributes a whole lot to the problem.

Students and plastic usage

Students in particular tend to use a lot of plastics in their daily lives. In Trinity College, for example, many students get takeaway meals in plastic containers and with plastic cutlery.

True to the student life, takeaway coffees are also unavoidable. While some coffee cups are said to be recyclable, this report by ABC news actually shows otherwise. Not only is the cardboard part not recyclable, but the plastic isn’t either.

Why students should beminimising their plastic usage

Although being a student is hard, there are many habits they can start now to help minimise the impact they have on the earth. If healthy habits can be established now, we can slowly move towards a lifestyle with little to no plastic usage.

As the future leading generation, we also have a stake in promoting best practices in protecting the environment. Every little bit helps even though we can’t visibly see the effects.

To further understand the what students think about plastic usage, we conducted a survey. According to the results, one-third of the participants thought it was difficult to reduce plastic usage. Those students also indicated that while they found it challenging, they do want to reduce their plastic usage.

How to get started

Here are some ways students can easily eliminate plastic usage in their daily lives with little effort

Bringing your own water bottle/ lunchbox

When you go out, bring your own reusable water bottle instead of buying disposable bottled water outside. You can avoid lots of unnecessary plastic usage this way. There are many drinking fountains around Melbourne, so you won’t need to worry about not having water. There are many reusable bottles available that are made of glass and metal. Such materials not only last longer, but they are also healthier for you as well.

Stop getting take-away

Eating in the restaurant rather than ordering takeaway will help you avoid lots of plastic usage. If you often get takeaway, bring along some reusable cutlery to minimise the plastics used. Some restaurants may offer recyclable takeaway containers and supporting these businesses helps your contribution to the earth.

As for coffee, get a reusable coffee cup! There are many on the market such as the famous Keepcups. Most of these coffee cups are also spill proof which makes it even better.

Shop with a reusable shopping bag

Most students shop every week if not every day. When grocery shopping students can keep a reusable bag in their handbag or backpack to use. Although the plastic bags given out at supermarkets can be used as garbage bin liners, they do not degrade and are not sustainable even when used twice.

Reusable bags are very cheap and can be bought for a couple of dollars or less. Not only can you use them for grocery shopping but also other types of shopping like when buying clothes.

Give up chewing gum

According to Green Education Foundation, gum is a synthetic plastic. Although some students may think chewing gum can help them wake up a little bit, it is better to give up in order to reduce the use of plastic. Instead, try chewy candy!