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How Single-Use Plastic Impacts You

Single-use plastic is all around us. Think about the items you use everyday that you throw away. How many are plastic-based? It is hard to quit our plastic addiction but there are ways to do so, and New York State has begun to take action on the issue. By March 2020, plastic bags may be banned in New York, with a five-cent fee for paper bags. 

State action on this issue will affect SUNY students and there are more bills around single-use plastic to come. For example, Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-9th District) has proposed a bill around shampoo bottles provided by hotels. This legislation is important and something that we have to adjust to in terms of our behavior. 

SUNY schools and students have also been taking action around single-use plastics. For instance, the University at Albanyand SUNY Buffalo have changed lids and proposed plastic straws upon request provisions. This shows how student advocacy is listened to in the SUNY system. 

Proposing resolutions and writing to lawmakers might not be in everyone's wheelhouse in terms of single-use plastic, but there is stuff you can do. Here are my suggestions: 

  • Use reusable bags when you shop

  • Have your own reusable water bottle

  • Have your own metal/silicone/paper/bamboo straw

  • Bring your own eating containers when you go out to eat

  • Talk to your friends about single-use plastic pollution

  • Refuse single-use plastic items at meetings and conferences, and

  • Have your own bamboo or metal utensils

It would be great if all of us went zero waste and used all the tips I suggested but it can be hard. Don’t be afraid to start small- it is necessary that we all do something. The SUNY system accounts for 1.4 million students so we add a lot to plastic pollution. We all need to make changes sooner rather than later because by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. 

If we don’t want a future where seeing plastic clogging the ocean is commonplace, changes need to be made. SUNY will continue to advocate for change and we as students can make changes both big and small. We can all make the planet better together. 

Written by Grace McGrath, student leader at the University at Albany

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