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My First Semester after UWC

11 December 2018

“UWC (United World Colleges) is a movement that makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures”. That is the motto that every UWC graduate can tell you by heart.

However, it is more than just a slogan; it’s an inspiration, a great impact on each one of us to make a change for the better and more sustainable future. 

 “Personal responsibility and integrity” and “Respect for the environment” are those two values that lead me to take Environmental Studies in Bennington College, after graduation from UWC Red Cross Nordic in May 2018. This course raised my awareness and inspired me to spread the word about the issue of plastic pollution in modern society we live in.

 Global warming, plastic pollution, toxic air are modern environmental issues.  Plastic Bags and climate change are linked in a variety of ways. From air quality to ocean toxicity, plastic bags contribute to ecosystem disruption. Introduced just 36  years ago, single-use plastic bags have become environmental menaces. They are now consumed at an unprecedented rate of about 1 million per minute. These bags often wind up in waterways or on the landscape, becoming eyesores and worse, and degrading water and soil as they break down into tiny toxic bits. Their manufacture, transportation and disposal use large quantities of non-renewable resources and release equally large amounts of global warming gases. Ecologically, hundreds of thousands of marine animals die every year when they mistake plastic bags for food.

 Moreover, paper bags, unless made of 100% recycled content, have been proven to have as many negative impacts as plastic ones. Many people responsibly dispose of their bags, but even when disposed of properly, they can pose a threat. Dioxin and other toxins can leach out of landfills, further contaminating waterways and oceans.

 It doesn't have to be this way—and it's changing all over the world! Each one of us can make an individual contribution in this movement to make this world a better place to live. And here is the starter guide to reach this goal:

How to Reduce Plastic Use
  1. Use a reusable produce bag. A single plastic bag can take 1,000 years to degrade. Purchase or make your reusable produce bag and be sure to wash them often! 
  2. Use a reusable bottle or mug for your beverages, even when ordering from a to-go shop
  3. Stop using plastic straws, even in restaurants. If a straw is a must, purchase a reusable stainless steel or glass straw
  4. Buy boxes instead of bottles. Often, products like laundry detergent come in cardboard which is more easily recycled than plastic.
  5. Reuse containers for storing leftovers or shopping in bulk.
  6. Make freshly squeezed juice or eat fruit instead of buying juice in plastic bottles.
  7. Bring your own reusable bag for take-out since many restaurants use styrofoam. 
  8. Purchase food, like cereal, pasta, and rice from bulk bins and fill them in a reusable bag or container. This way, you save money and unnecessary packaging. 
  9. Encourage your community to become plastic free and produce less waste. We all need a healthy planet!
  10. Work with your neighbours to support local laws that reduce plastic packagings such as bags, take-out containers, straws, utensils, and plastic bottles.