USC’s Assignment: Earth has prevented 1 million plastic bottles from ending up in a landfill

In July of 2022, USC launched Assignment: Earth. This project was made for students, staff, and faculty members to lower the amount of waste and encourage eco-friendly behavior. A program like this provides educational opportunities for students who want to take part in courses or workshops to have a better understanding on sustainability. On campus, they have installed hydration stations which aim to reduce the use of plastic water bottles and promote an eco-friendly alternative. Not only is this more cost-effective, but is also a convenient way to stay hydrated. Refilling a reusable water bottle at a hydration station costs only a fraction of the price of purchasing a single-use plastic bottle.

The success of this initiative has inspired USC to continue its sustainability efforts, with plans to install even more hydration stations and promote the use of reusable water bottles on campus. This has led to large amounts of positive feedback from students, staff, and the local community. In last year and a half since this was launched, the university estimates that this change has prevented the production and distribution of over 1.3 million plastic bottles. On top of that, they are setting an example for other universities and organizations to follow. Many citizens along with myself, appreciate the initiatives that USC has developed over the last year and are excited for even greater results in the future.

I personally am very inspired by this project and believe that this is something that all schools should hope to achieve. When applying to colleges I found that many other university have taken up their own ways of reducing plastic waste on their campuses. This is very exciting to see other schools participating in the long journey of being carbon neutral. Although I’m not sure which school I will be going to this fall, I hope that I can continue take part in similar activities and play my role in creating a better environment.

Single-use plastics banned in Thailand national parks

Yesterday Thailand placed a ban on all styrofoam and single-use plastics to prevent more waste from harming the wildlife. For years, plastic waste and trash has accumulated on the coast of Thailand and grew even more during the coronavirus pandemic. This drastic rise in plastic was a result from takeout foods with their plastic packaging. But thankfully Thailand is now starting their fight in the war against plastic.

To ensure that their wildlife would be protected, they placed a fine up $3000 USD to anyone who is caught traveling into the park with single-use plastic or styrofoam items/containers. Information published by the Royal Gazette explained,

“The ban includes “carry plastic bags which are less than 36 microns, plastic food containers, cups, straws, and cutlery”, the announcement said.”

Representative from GreenPeace Thailand explain that these plastics can block animals intestines and disrupt digestive systems if consumed. On top of that, the plastic can be carried into waterways and could potentially threaten marine life. Thailand has placed other bans on plastic in the past, but aren’t fully enforced. For example, in 2020 Thailand outlawed the sale of single-use plastic bags in supermarkets, but the same could not be enforced to street vendors, cafes, and smaller retail markets.

For now, Thailand’s plans towards a safer environment are slowly on their way and are making good decisions in the right direction. This year, Thailands government put out a statement that they hope to have 100 percent recyclable plastics to be in use by 2027. Time will tell; but this is a good place to start.

Liquid Death: better than plastic

As many people should know, plastic water bottles are one of the most dangerous items to our marine environments. All my life I have grown up with liquids coming in a plastic bottle in one form or another with some being easier to recycle than others. This changed in 2018 when Liquid Death launched their infamous mountain and sparkling water. Their brand is inspired by death metal and punk rock culture which is displayed in their creative marketing ideas. Now what makes this water brand different from any other water company you ask? Liquid Death uses aluminum cans because they a lot more sustainable than plastic. Aluminum cans contain 20 times more recyclable material per container than plastic. On average, each can contains about 70% recyclable material, while plastic has round 3% recyclable materialOn top of that, aluminum cans allow for drinks to stay ice-cold much longer than plastic. The company has given claimed that all the aluminum produced since 1888, 75% of it is still in productive use today. This is mind-blowing and makes me question why other beverage companies haven’t made the switch.

This brand is advertised almost everywhere, but most noticeably on Tik Tok. Liquid Death does a great job of sponsoring entertainers on the app and giving them a platform make money and spread a message. By working with big influencers, Liquid Death has made a name for itself and has become one of the top sponsors on the app. I myself have been persuaded by the media to try Liquid Death and I can say that it has a special feeling. Never in my life have I had water out of an ice cold can and I would gladly say I wouldn’t prefer it any other way. Drinking water, knowing that I have helped the environment by not choosing plastic gives me a better feeling than if I were to buy any other plastic water bottle. I believe Liquid Death is doing a great thing with its products and I hope to see them inspire other companies to do the same. If you haven’t already, you should try Liquid Dead the next time you go into your local market or gas station; you will be pleasantly surprised with the difference it brings to you. Please make sure to check out Liquid Death and support their cause towards a safer and healthier environment.

No more cigarette butts: No more toxic waste

As many California residents know, cigarette butts are found everywhere we go. These little ends of a cigarette have been an occurring object throughout my entire life. Walking down the street, seeing old cigarette filters filling the gaps in the pavement or covering the vase of a plant. The growing issue of smoking and especially among teens have become a serious health and environmental hazard. These things are everywhere and cost millions of dollars to clean up every year.

In a recent LA Times article, they discuss Assembly Bill 1690 which tackles the problem of cigarette butts consuming our streets. This bill would not only ban single-use cigarette filters, but also “disposable” vapes that carry a batteries and fluids that cause damage to local environments. This is great because the so called disposable vapes are much more harmful and take up a lot more space. These butts made up nearly 30% of trash collected by volunteers on Coastal Cleanup Day. Every year in Los Angeles alone, the city spends over $19 million dollars cleaning up cigarette filters and other vape products. To think all that money being spent to clean up after others, could be used to help better the environment in a more productive way. In the US as a whole, there is about $41 million dollars spent per year cleaning up this toxic trash. Now, this will not take out disposable vapes and vape products all together. Instead, they will fine all sellers $500 per violation sold from one to 20 items.

In the past, bills have been deemed unsuccessful towards banning these items but we think this time might be different. As stated in the article, “growing awareness” of the issue and “stronger coalition” between others, will allow for people to support the passing of this bill to better our environment and set a better standard for the smokers in our country.

Microplastics are becoming a bigger problem then expected

In an article published by Science Daily, they bring up the growing issue of microplastics and how the problem is only getting worse. In their study, they learn that the amount of scientific methods to study microplastics have limited their knowledge about microplastics and how they impact many ecosystems. This could become a serious issue because if their studies are not similar, then they will not be able to determine the true effect this problem. The study says,

“reviews the research carried out to measure the presence of microplastics in the coastal areas and seawater of the Mediterranean Sea, both in the sea surface water, seawater column and in marine sediments.”

Science Daily

This concluded in them finding that the amount of microplastics in the Mediterranean are much worse than they presumed and may not be able to find ways to combat the growing issue.

What does this mean for the future? We aren’t sure. Because microplastics are one of the most environmentally threatening items in our world, this isn’t going to be a project that can be easily fixed. As a society, we need to educate ourselves on the growing environmental issues in our world in order to prevent greater problems. As each day passes, there is more plastic being created and destroyed and continue to harm ecosystems. in this situation, country leaders must work together in tackling this topic. By comparing research and results, researchers can combine ideas and techniques to prevent further disasters in different regions.

Elephants are dying from plastic waste dumps in Sri Lanka

In recent years, researchers in Sri Lanka have become more aware about the growing issue of elephants consuming plastic. In the last 8 years, over 20 elephants have died in the Pallakkadu village in the Ampara district, due to eating plastic. Around many of these villages are garbage dumps, which are filled with food wrappers, plastic, polythene, and many other non-digestible items. This causes for elephants in the surrounding area to wonder towards the dumps and eat the trash. This trash has the ability to cut their insides and block digestive systems. As they consume more trash, it will build up to the point where they are too weak and heavy to locate water and food. On top of that, elephants that wonder into cities can be killed by villagers who want to protect themselves, or angry farmers that don’t damage to their land. This problem has dropped the population of elephants in Sri Lanka by over half within the past century.

“Elephants are revered in Sri Lanka but are also endangered. Their numbers have dwindled from about 14,000 in the 19th century to 6,000 in 2011, according to the country’s first elephant census.”

LA Times

Attempts have been made to protect these elephants but have not been fully successful. In 2017, the Sri Lanka government made plans to recycle the waste near wildlife zones, and set up electric fences around these areas to steer animals away from waste dumps. Within the wildlife zones, there are around 54 waste dumps with 300 elephants near them. This means that all 300 elephants have easy access to these waste dumps and have nothing to stop them form doing so. In 2014, the electric fences that were put around the wildlife zones were either unmanaged or broken. This caused for wildlife to escape back into the waste areas and continue to eat more trash. Also, this has led wildlife to revisit villages and continue to terrorize the area in search for food. Even though elephants pose danger to citizens and their homes, they are also a huge resource in their country. This means that plans need to be made in order protect both humans and elephants in way that can preserve agriculture and the environment around it.

Microplastics Are Spreading Everywhere

In a recent article published by The Guardian, it talks about how microplastics are being spreading all throughout our environment. Whether it is food, water, or even air, we are consuming microplastics one way or another and are unsure on how they impact us. As for the environment, research has shown that is harms wildlife, especially in the ocean. Because microplastics can only be observed under a microscopic lens, it is very hard to track where they will end up or where they are coming from. In a single washing machine cycle, clothes can shed up to 700,000 pieces of microplastic, which will eventually disseminate through out homes, cities, and countries. One researcher named Aaron Beck found,

“New data from 36 sites collected during The Ocean Race Europe found that 86% of the microplastics in the seawater samples were fibres. “Our data clearly show that microplastics are pervasive in the ocean and that, surprisingly, the major component is microfibres,”

The Guardian

A solution that could work in the meantime, was created by Grundig, who recently developed a fiber-catching washing machine. Their machine is said to catch up to 90% of synthetic fibers, which will significantly cut down the amount of microplastics being released from each wash. They have also have other alternatives that do not require customers to purchase a brand new washing machine. Instead could buy replacement cartridges that will help capture the synthetic fibers as they go down the drain.

I think that Grundig has a done a great job of providing a new efficient way of capturing microplastics and stopping them from harming our environment. I hope to see people in the UK begin to purchase these items, in order to help our oceans and make sure our environment stays clean.

Happy New Year From Save Our Pacific

Happy New Year from Save Our Pacific to you! We want to thank everyone that has supported our nonprofit over the past half year and the people that we have met along the way. As a high school student, I didn’t realize how fun and exciting it is to put out information to the public, and spread the word on saving our oceans. For almost 7 months, we have published many articles addressing the issues of single-use plastic, how to reduce one’s plastic footprint, and highlight attempts from big corporations on reducing plastic waste. We hope to continue providing important information on what is happening with our oceans and share ways on how we can keep them safe. I look forward to what comes in the future for our nonprofit and hope that as a team, we can help save marine ecosystems and keep beaches and oceans clean from plastic and other hazardous waste.

Don’t let others careless actions have an even greater impact on our future. We have to work together on properly recycling and hold each other accountable for doing so. And that starts with our movement at Save Our Pacific.

Our Reusable Plastic Isn’t Being Reused, Its Being Shipped Overseas

The countries where the world's waste goes |

This past month, an article published by USA Today, brings up the issue of plastic not being reused or recycled correctly. Today, our recycling system is filled with secrets and have no one to hold accountable. Only around 9% of plastic is properly recycled, which leaves for 8 million tons of plastic to enter our ocean every year. Only around half of the plastic that we recycle is actually being taken care of, while the other half is being sent overseas for a smaller, less fortunate country to deal with. This is what leads to large plastic buildups, which can permanently damage the area its in and the life that surrounds it.

“The U.S. ships a million tons of plastic waste overseas every year. Starting in the 90s, the U.S. shipped plastic waste to China where the most useful items might actually be recycled. However, much of it got dumped into rivers, which carried the plastic into the ocean. China banned these imports in 2018. Then, the U.S. started shipping plastic waste to countries even less capable of handling it.”

USA Today

These actions are unfair because these countries are not properly equipped for this amount of trash and causes them to suffer the consequences of it. For one, plastic is extremely harmful for the environment, so it is not only affecting them geographically, but also taking up space for people to live. As each day passes, the population continues to increase drastically and requires us to have more space for the new people being brought into the world. Through pilling up large amounts of plastic, we reduce the amount of space available for future lives. Through not putting a stop to this problem soon, these buildups will only grow bigger and bigger until we finally cannot do anything about it. Large corporations must do their part in protecting our planet and making sure we dispose of plastic pollution properly in order to preserve the future of the world.

New Recycling Strategy in the US

500+ Recycling Pictures | Download Free Images on Unsplash

In a recent article published by The Verge, it brings up new ideas that could help increase our recycling rate to move towards a more “circular economy.” This means, that our community recourses are recoverable and reusable to be put towards products, rather than being incinerated or thrown in the dump. It doesn’t just start there though, we have to target the main problem, the knowledge of the American citizen. People need to be educated on what can go in the recycling bin and what cannot. A big problem with recycling is cardboard, people will recycle cardboard with food and liquid stains, that do not allow it to be recycled. This causes it to be sent to a land fill, rather than being processed properly. The article read,

“The EPA also wants to develop new markets for recycled materials so that it’s worth it for companies to recycle. That means there could be new policies or financial incentives on the way to boost demand for recycled materials. The strategy document mentions, for example, a “Demand Challenge partnership program” that would recognize companies for using more recycled materials in their products. “

The Verge

This is a great idea because it can hold companies accountable for not moving towards reusable and recyclable products. Through having this alternative, we will hopefully see more companies transition into reusable products and help support recycle groups, so that we can keep the planet clean.

I think that with time, this idea will be one of the leading changes that will follow us into future and become the new standard for companies. As time passes, this problem continues to grow and become worse and worse. By taking action now, we can prevent further tragedies and lead to cleaner and safer world.