Letter to the Editor: Plastic Waste


As a society, we crave convenience. However, as a byproduct, we have become increasingly reliant on the convenience of plastic. Plastic is in everything and is everywhere.

In 1950, an estimated two million tons of plastic was produced; as of 2015, the cumulative tonnage has multiplied by 220 times to a whopping 440 million tons. Additionally, of the 9.1 billion tons of plastic ever produced, around 50 percent of it is from the last 13 years alone. In the United States, an estimated 60 million plastic water bottles are thrown away each day, translating to 35 billion water bottles a year.

Unfortunately, all of that wasted plastic has to end up in either the stomachs of wildlife, a landfill or on an island of garbage forming in the ocean. The UC Santa Barbara Nation Center of Ecological Analysis and Synthesis found that eight million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans. For animals, especially those living in the sea, plastic can often be mistaken as food; in fact, in 2006, Greenpeace’s Plastic Debris in the World’s Oceans report stated that “at least 267 different animal species are known to have suffered from entanglement and ingestion of plastic debris.” Additionally, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration estimated 100,000 marine mammals die due to plastic debris annually.

We know that plastic is negatively affecting our overall environment, but how do these startling facts apply to Archer? Whether it is a student council event, parent nights, Lit & Conference or Film Festival, at any given Archer event you will find yourself drinking from a plastic eight-ounce water bottle that was most likely handed to you or located on a table as you walked in. The undeniable truth of this is that we waste plastic water bottles on campus more than we realize. I understand that the convenience of these plastic water bottles makes it desirable to provide them at events, but imagine if every student, teacher and faculty member drank just two of these eight-ounce bottles at an Archer event. That would add up to 1,114 bottles of plastic waste. The bottles may be small in size, but the amount of plastic waste adds up.

What action can we take as a community to reduce our plastic waste? I propose that rather than providing plastic water bottles at Archer events, we have reusable cups that can be washed and used again for Archer events. This way, we can provide guests with water while reducing our plastic waste on campus. For students, adding reusable water bottles as part of their supply list and awarding spirit points to classes that consistently bring reusable water bottles to school would reduce plastic waste among the student body. By taking these steps, we can create an incentive to think more environmentally consciously and bring awareness to the plastic waste affecting our world.

-Ruby Colby ’19