The Size Of Our Failure - Cover

The Size Of Our Failure

We have a new intern here at Noah. We've asked him to try his hand at writing a follow up blog post about our week without plastic. Be warned. He is incredibly thorough and detail oriented. If you like this post, we'll take credit for bringing this young man in. If you don't, just blame the rhetoric department at Berkeley.

After some members of our team went to Coney Island to pick up trash on the beach as a part of World Oceans Day earlier in the month, we were forced to reevaluate our own contribution to the problem of ocean pollution. Once we saw the beach littered with so much garbage, which was mainly plastic straws, bottles, wrappers, and packaging, we decided that we should make an effort to limit plastic use within the office. As a result, our office took on the challenge of going an entire week without single-use plastics. We expected to fail, as disposable plastic items have become ubiquitous in the throw-away culture of today. However, making decisions consciously to eliminate our plastic consumption led to a reduction of plastics and we used just enough to fit inside a plastic cup, despite the irony of that cup being a part of the overlooked plastic brought into the office.

Through five days of collecting any single-use plastic items we brought into the office, we collected four coffee cup lids, one fork, three bottle cap rings, two utensil wrappers, three candy wrappers, two condiment packets, one cup, and one sandwich wrapper. Although some of this plastic could have been easily avoided by replacing the cup with a reusable metal bottle or by forgoing the lid entirely, some items were harder to substitute or we bought without realizing they were made of plastic. Some of the bottle caps, for instance, came from glass bottles but came with a plastic top to keep the seal airtight, and despite ketchup packets seeming to be a foil-like material, they are at least in part plastic.

To understand the full impact of the plastic we brought into the office, we looked at each type of refuse we collected and investigated its effects on the environment, and more specifically, the oceans.

While we focused on a select few elements of the plastic waste that we saw during our plastic-free week, the problem is not confined to just these items. We could not overlook the greater issue at hand, and decided to provide some more general and alarming information on plastic pollution.

While diving into the concept of waste reduction, we stumbled upon the website, which chronicles Lauren Singer’s efforts to lead a zero waste life in NYC. She has been wildly successful and in four years has only produced enough non-recyclable and non-compostable trash to fill one mason jar. The zero waste philosophy involves utilizing resources so that they can be reused, which ultimately reduces the amount of plastic consumption so that there is the least possible waste heading into the oceans and landfills. Although going completely zero waste may be a daunting task, it is still a great ideal and something everyone can strive towards.

By attempting to go a week without using plastic products we realized how common they are in our daily lives and how difficult it is to fully eradicate them. We will continue to make an effort here at Noah to reduce the amount of harmful plastic we use, as well as maintain a consciousness of how our decisions impact the earth we all share.