The American lifestyle revolves around convenience, not sustainability

The American lifestyle is one that revolves around efficiency and practicality. From lingering in the shower to using plastic straws in drinks, Americans today certainly do not place being environmentally sustainable at the top of their priorities.

However, small steps have been made in the right direction. California banned plastic grocery bags during the 2016 election with Proposition 67. Since then, things have been going smoothly, and reusable bags are now found in all grocery stores. Additionally, in September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill banning restaurants from giving customers plastic straws without asking. The bill will go into effect in 2019. Other states seem to be following in the footsteps of California, as New York is set to ban plastic bags starting in 2019.

Still, what has yet to change is the mindset of the American people, who seem to be too reliant on single-use products like these plastic straws.

“Yeah, I probably use a ton of plastic straws,” sophomore Helen Zhan, an avid boba drinker said. “I get boba almost every day after school.”

Americans use an astonishing 500 million straws everyday, according to EcoCycle, an environmental group. 75 percent of the waste produced is products and material, the other 25 percent being organic food waste. Evidently, this statistic is well reflected in the everyday lifestyle of an American. Although it seems insignificant, that morning cup of coffee from Starbucks does not just vanish when it is chucked into a trash can.

Cherilyn Yu, co-secretary of the Burlingame Environmental Club, offers an idea to move towards a more sustainable future.

“I think what we really need to do is just educate people,” Yu said. “Advocating for change won’t do much because the problem will still be present. By getting rid of plastic or increasing recycling bins, this only delays the problem until another day to solve it. Instead, what we need to do is educate people and change their minds.”

Yu’s words ring true, as finding ways to collect plastic and integrating more opportunity for recycling are not resolving the root problem: the production of plastic and other single-use products.

Americans need to end their relationship with plastic products for true progress to be made.

“I think people like to think that we are doing well, but in true honesty, I feel like we are just making the environment a whole lot worse,” Yu said. “With advanced technology, our environment is sacrificed for our convenience.”

Posted on October 27, 2018 .