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SMC student shares the effects of sustainability

| Monday, September 7, 2015

The Justice Friday series continued at Saint Mary’s on Sept. 4, with a talk on sustainability by sophomore Kristhel Torre. The discussion, titled “How SMC Students Contribute to Environmental Problems and What We Can Do About It,” focused on minimizing trash output and practicing a sustainable lifestyle.

Torre said the problem resulted from an excess amount of trash being produced. In response, the consumers need to find alternative ways of disposal, she said.

“The problem is we’re entirely producing way too much waste, very unnecessary waste in the world from food waste, containers, things that we don’t take into consideration that we can reuse or give away to someone else instead of just throwing it away in the trash,” Torre said.

“I was looking through the trash cans around school and was looking at what was in it, if people were putting stuff in there that could be recycled or could have been used in a different way,” Torre said. “I saw a lot of cardboard and papers and water bottles that could have easily been put towards the recycling and not contributing towards the landfills.”

Torre said the average American produces more than four pounds of waste per day. In a three-person household, 90 pounds of trash are produced per week, not including recycling.

“I’m really passionate about this and saw this as a problem,” she said. “Especially in the United States because we are producing all this stuff but we aren’t really consuming everything. … We don’t take it into consideration how we could reuse it or find other ways to use it.”

Trash not only affects lakes and rivers but also animals, Torre said. She gave the example of the penguin Lovelace from the movie “Happy Feet” and how a plastic six-pack ring was fastened around his neck.

“Some people find that humorous, he is a cartoon, but once you take that into perspective, you see real life events where that is happening all the time, where, for example, an animal is caught in a plastic bag,” Torre said.

“For our trash to affect all these animals, not just our animals but our environment … it just puts it into perspective,” she said. “All of this trash that we are putting out there, we could minimize that. We have to be a little more cautious about the stuff that we are using. … Our trash is not just going in the landfills … it’s affecting more than we think.”

Torre asked the audience why Saint Mary’s students don’t recycle when there are recycle bins on every floor of the dormitories.

“People know cardboard can be recycled and water bottles can be recycled, why are they not doing that?,” Torre said. “We have recycle bins on every floor. Is it because it’s far from your room?”

Junior Maranda Pennington said a reason students don’t recycle might be that they don’t have to deal with the direct consequences.

“When people don’t have to deal with the direct consequences right then, and they can live in their happy state and not realize what they are doing affects other people and the environment … they don’t take an initiative or care,” Pennington said.

Torre defined sustainability as taking what is needed now without jeopardizing the potential for future generations.

“Landfills keep filling up and we keep manufacturing more and more,” Torre said. “Let’s take an initiative … making sure we know where our trash is going.”

The Justice Friday series takes place every Friday from 12-12:50 p.m. in the Student Center.

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About Alex Winegar

A junior at Saint Mary's, Alex is a Communicative Sciences and Disorders major. She serves as the Saint Mary's co-associate news editor. Alex enjoys traveling, food and spending time in "The Mitten."

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