By Ryan Highland
Over the past 100 years, plastic has been integrated into our daily lives to the point it’s inescapable. It can be found in all products we use from morning to night—from the soaps we use to wash our face to the pillows we sleep on. However, the properties that make plastics so popular are the same that lead to serious consequences for humans and the environment, mainly the inability for plastic to biodegrade. According to the BBC, 9.1 billion US tons of non-recycled plastic has been produced to date with 79 percent (5.5 billion US tons) accumulating in the landfills and natural environment. By 2050, 13.2 billion US tons of plastic waste will litter Earth if our current behavior does not change.
For Earth Day 2018, AUS Sustainability is championing this year’s theme, #EndPlasticPollution, by focusing on reducing and reusing plastic right here on the AUS Campus. Visit us outside in between the Main Building and Student Center to participate in our Plastic Bottle Exchange. For every 10 small plastic bottles or one 5-gallon bottle you turn in, you will receive an AUS Sustainability reusable metal water bottle or canvas tote bag. Use your metal water bottle to fill up at any of the public water coolers listed here on the new AUS Sustainability Map. Not only will you save money, you will do your part to reduce the amount of plastic being introduced into the environment.
All plastic bottles collected by AUS Sustainability will be reused right here on campus in the AUS Greenhouse project. This groundbreaking, student-led initiative will use plastic bottles collected to construct a greenhouse that is designed to both keep plants warm in the winter as well as cool in the summer. Stop by and meet the mastermind of the AUS Greenhouse, Zulfikar Shahpurwala, and follow the project progress on Instagram: @aus_greenhouse.
Changing how we think and interact with plastic in our daily lives is an important step to #EndPlasticPollution and it will not happen overnight. To see how pervasive plastic is your life, calculate your own plastic pollution impact with this convenient tool from the Earth Day Network. We believe you will be shocked. Here at AUS Sustainability, we are dedicating to extend this campaign beyond Earth Day 2018 in order to make a measurable impact with the AUS community. Please follow AUS Sustainability on Facebook @AUSSustainable to keep informed on the ongoing efforts to #EndPlasticPollution. We hope you join us on this important journey!
*info and image from “Plastic Pollution Primer and Action Toolkit - End Plastic Pollution Earth Day 2018” Earth Day Network