I’ve been a student of sustainability for a little over 2 years now and in that time, I have been privileged to behold a lot of research and information from both past and present scholars, activists, and scientists on the subject. Because sustainability fills most of my intellectual pursuits it’s on my mind more than your average consumer. It also doesn’t help that I am already a highly conscientious person—I take notice and analyze everything I do. This isn’t to say that people who aren’t studying sustainability are ignorant to the fact that human beings have a waste problem; there are great people everywhere, from a slew of backgrounds making differences through everyday actions. It’s easier to be aware of things you see, like visible air pollution—something that terribly affects the Sale Lake Valley year-round (But is made vehemently visible during the natural inversion of winter). I feel like a lot of people are blissfully unaware of the little, unseen, things that add up.
Several YouTube videos of marine life being seriously injured or killed due to plastic pollution in the ocean has caused public outcry for change. Recently California passed legislation prohibiting “dine-in restaurants from automatically providing plastic straws.” This is just one example of responsible action being taken after negative human impacts were made visible.
Although I don’t live in a coastal state our waste can still enter and damage ecosystems. The Great Salt Lake and subsequently Farmington Bay is home to one of the largest seasonal populations of migratory birds. For a few months out of the year hundreds of thousands of birds stop here to rest and eat up before finishing their migration patterns. Sadly, birds cannot tell the difference between colorful food or colorful plastic. If you don’t believe me, here's another shocking video (*watch at your own risk*).
My point isn’t to bemoan or demean people for using plastic, rather my point is to help make an issue visible. Yes, I agree that there are bigger pollution issues than just plastic straws, but we must start somewhere. So, what can you do now? It starts with taking responsibility for your choices. If you can avoid a plastic straw, do it. If you can avoid single-use plastics like cutlery, plates, cups, etc., do it. If wherever possible you can reduce your consuming, do it. If wherever possible you can reuse packaging, do it. If wherever possible if you can recycle something, do it. Even if it seems little, everything we do matters.