When walking through campus there is a huge and frankly disappointing amount of litter. The cups, bottles, wrappers, and trash in general is piling up outside garbage bins. However, now we have the added trash from disposable masks, disinfectant wipes, and gloves.
According to the Environmental protection agency in 2013, the average American created 4.40 pounds of trash per person per day, that is 254 million tons of waste that year.
To see how VSU is contributing to this, three polls were conducted to evaluate the campus’ impact.
Poll #1- VSU Spectator social media
Do you have a reusable mask?
Total responses: 58
Reusable: 84% Single use: 16%
According to the United Nations website 75% of masks and other pandemic waste will end up in landfills or in the sea. Nine of the participants in the poll are contributing to this statistic.
While it might be easier to grab a new mask each morning is it worth it? A lot of single-use products are now being switched over to be more environmentally friendly. Plastic bags have recently gone through a revolution. However, California and Hawaii are the only US states to officially ban plastic bags.
Poll #2- VSU Spectator social media
Have you seen any COVID- 19 litter?
Total responses: 51
Yes: 80% No: 10%
VSU is home to many environmentally cautious organizations. Students with apiary revival and management (SWARM) being one of them. This organization wants to help students learn to care/keep honey bees, as well as bring awareness to the importance of humans’ need for survival.
“I feel that the influx of single use sanitation such as gloves, masks, wipes, etc, are going to set us back in the progression of a cleaner and safer planet,” Carter Gilbert, the president of SWARM said.
“We already have turtles mistaking plastic bags for jellyfish, and I’m sure single use gloves are similar. I’m not sure what the best course is, but when safe using reusable masks and wipes and helping to stop COVID-19 seems to be really important right now.”
Another organization on campus is Students against violating the environment (SAVE). This organization has a very clear objective of spreading information to help save the earth.
“I’m not sure that the pandemic will fix the environment in the long term,” Desiree Barnett, the president of this organization, said. “While I think that the ability to work from home may continue and if people choose to do that then that will help with carbon emissions. However, there is nothing stopping the single use waste or carbon emissions from coming back up again once the world returns to “normal”. Reusable alternatives to everyday plastics such as straws, one use plastic straws, and disposable cups are easy to come by and often save more money than buying the same disposable things over and over again. Also simply recycling is better than just not doing anything at all.”
Poll #3- VSU Spectator social media
Do you think that litter on campus was this bad before the pandemic?
Total responses: 52
Yes: 59% No: 41%
VSU does take initiative to keep a clean campus. The roads surrounding the university have been adopted to make Valdosta as clean as it can be.
Due to the pandemic it is not plausible to ban single use masks, but steps can be taken to lower the amount of waste created.Help limit mask waste by correctly disposing of a mask or eliminate the waste all together by investing in a reusable mask. Visit one of these sites to online shop or stop into one of these retail chains to buy one.
Written by Gwenivere Friedman,Staff Writer. Photo courtesy of Gwenivere Friedman and Bailey Storey and Pexels.