Stop using plastic bags
Plastic bags are a major environmental hazard, ultimately because of the lack of proper recycling and disposal. Due to plastic pollution, it has been estimated that more than 100,000 marine mammals die every year from consuming plastics, which obstruct any real food from reaching the digestive tract — ultimately killing the animal. Across the United States, cities such as San Francisco and Portland, Ore., have already banned plastic bags and realized the horrendous effect plastic bags have on our lives: Fish that we eat have often ingested small plastic shards, and plastic can leak toxic chemicals into our groundwater. It is time for the University to take a step of action and reduce our plastic consumption.
According to the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group, the University uses a staggering 19.5 million bags a year. With that massive, wasteful number, pollution is inevitable. To reduce our local environmental impact, we need to eliminate plastic bags and introduce reusable tote bags, paper bags, or biodegradable bags at Dining Services. With a plethora of safe and sustainable alternatives available, disposable bags are obsolete. The University prides itself in being a pioneer in the pursuit of creating sustainable campuses, having already built the largest campus solar energy facility in the nation, and should strive to pursue a feasible environmental accomplishment by banning plastic bags. We, the students of the University, are the future of this country, and we need to start to living in harmony with nature to preserve the wondrous resources it provides us.
Students can start forming good habits by choosing not to take a bag at takeout, using reusable tote bags when shopping and taking unwanted plastic bags to recycling bins at local grocery stores. As these habits develop, a gradual elimination of plastic bags at the University will not seem so daunting. If banned, plastic bags will be an artifact of the past, bringing us closer to a cleaner, more sustainable lifestyle on campus.
Henry Gajda is a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences sophomore majoring in environmental sciences.