Imagine going on vacation and walking on a beautiful, warm Caribbean beach. All seems serene and calm, until a huge patch of plastic waste is found, only for an endless amount of plastic water bottles, plastic bags, straws and other plastic waste to be found as further investigation is taken.
Unfortunately, this tragic occurrence is a reality that has become increasingly common along the shores of the Caribbean islands. As stated by the British Broadcasting Company, the United Kingdom alone uses approximately 13 billion plastic water bottles each year, of which only over 3 billion are recycled. That leaves a whopping 10 billion plastic water bottles placed either directly into landfills or discarded as litter which affects local habitats.
According to Marine Insight, people around the world throw away a total of 4 million tons of trash a day, of which 12.8 percent is plastic. This number adds up to approximately 186 million tons of plastic simply thrown away each year — a staggering amount of plastic that ends up in landfills and damages entire ecosystems.
Unfortunately, the damage of plastic not only affects the Caribbean, but also our local beaches and other natural environments. Plastic water bottles, bags and straws are just a fraction of the waste that washes up on our shores.
When asked how plastic affects local ecosystems around Rider, Jordan Dreyer, a sophomore film, TV and radio major said, “Although it may not be thought of by everyone, the plastic that is thrown away ends up somewhere on earth. The pollution that plastic creates ends up destroying the habitats of the plants and animals around us, all of which are important in keeping the balance of the ecosystem.”
While it does seem rather grim sometimes with the rapid increase of plastic waste around the world, there are a plethora of organizations that have been created to not only help recycle more plastic, but to make people more aware of the harmful effects of plastic. One of these organizations is RecycleMania, an eight-week competition with colleges from around the country who compete to see which institutions can to recycle the most. Rider’s very own office of sustainability is doing its part in this competition.
When asked how people could become more conscientious with their plastic use, Brennan Zelenski, a junior accounting major, said, “People should be sure to recycle not only their plastic water bottles, but their everyday items such as body wash and shampoo containers. If everyone were to encourage recycling,
plastic pollution would not be as much of a problem as it is today.”
Thankfully, Rider’s Office of Sustainability also works with local recycling company Terracycle. The Terracycle Beauty Brigade was implemented to take students’ empty beauty and shower products so they could be recycled and transformed into entirely new products, creating zero waste in the process.
While plastic pollution is a problem that affects all of the earth, there are so many organizations doing their parts to reduce plastic waste. All it takes is a bit of effort and care from everyone to preserve this beautiful planet that we call home and save it for many generations to come.