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Can Tumblers Save the Environment?2022 Essay Contest

“Save the turtles!” is a slogan spouted by many, but does anyone know how to save the environment? Stanford Earth Matters magazine states that plastic straws are less than 1% of the problem, which has increased the production and purchasing of tumblers. However, unless tumblers are used frequently while plastic cups are used less simultaneously, attempting to save the environment through tumblers alone is fruitless.

Humans are hardwired to seek instant gratification. This is a problem because saving the environment cannot be achieved within a few months or even a few years. Someone may plan to take action to mitigate the harmful effects they are contributing to the environment, but they may need more time to follow through fully. ABC 25 Columbia found that 80% of people abandon their New Year’s resolutions, likely due to a lack of instant gratification. Subsequently, one can buy tumblers in good faith.

Still, because manufacturing one tumbler emits more greenhouse gases than a disposable cup, it negates the desired effect if those tumblers are not replacing the use of plastic cups. The Institute for Life Cycle Energy Analysis claims that glass tumblers should be used 15 times and plastic ones at least 17 times for there to be a positive effect on the environment. In an ideal world, people would purchase tumblers and solely use those rather than disposable cups. However, until people actually do so, purchasing tumblers in the name of moral righteousness is nothing more than virtue signaling.

On the other hand, there are various ways college students can be eco-friendly and leave a smaller carbon footprint. According to Greener Ideal, more alternatives for students to help the environment include recycling, using fewer forms of transportation that require natural gas, and being cautious of paper usage.

For example, instead of constantly ordering takeout that requires plastic plates and utensils that are only good for one-time use, it would be more beneficial to buy foods in bulk and prepare them at home with dishes that can be washed and reused. Students may also walk or use bicycles to move from one place to another instead of being heavily dependent on buses and taxis that emit harmful gasses. Although the solutions listed may be generic and often heard, when done as a whole, not only are they highly efficient but more than easily attainable in a shorter amount of time. Living in a digital-centered era allows convenience in notetaking and studying with digital devices, such as tablets or phones. Relying on printed study guides that will inevitably be disposed of is a waste of resources.

Ultimately, all the education in the world is useless if knowledge does not translate to action. The future of humanity and our planet depends on people’s compassion and ability to care about the detrimental effects that are taking place now. Utilizing the tumblers you have while reducing disposable products can make the difference between a truly green environment for the upcoming future or one that only consists of shades of gray and suffocation.

Hwang Dae-hyun  (Statistics)

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