Culpeper Youth Spotlight: Emily Jenkins and Danielle Fields

Editor's note: This is weekly series highlighting members of Culpeper's Youth Council. To join Culpeper Youth, go to www. to apply.

How much waste do you think actually accumulates in your household? The average person produces about five pounds of trash each day while a family produces nearly 17.4 pounds.

It is important to understand the impact trash and waste has on the environment because it contributes to the build up of pollution and spread of harmful pollutants. Due to these high amounts of waste, encouraging practices of waste prevention and recycling is highly recommended.

There are many alternative ways to cut back on the amount of waste produced. For example, instead of using paper towels, invest in reusable towels that can be washed, or instead of plastic straws, use metal straws that can be found in any grocery store and even on Amazon.

After analyzing and tracking the amount of waste accumulated in our households, it really opened up our eyes on how much waste our families actually produced. The No. 1 item that generated the most waste was plastic products such as water bottles, bags, cups and straws. Between both of our families, we wasted about 15 water bottles per day which became about 156 particles of plastic polluting our environment.

Research has shown that 80 percent of plastic water bottles do not even get recycled; 38 million plastic bottles go into landfills each year in America alone. For plastic bags, both households wasted about 16 to 20 bags per week. Annually across the globe, about one trillion plastic bags are used, which is nearly 2 million bags being used every minute. As for plastic cups and straws, roughly 12 to 19 accumulated per week in both households.

Research data has shown that the world uses 500 billion plastic cups every year, and it is estimated that 500 million straws are used everyday. By continuously using plastic products each day, we are contributing to the build up of waste in landfills and oceans. This harms our society because plastic waste releases harmful chemicals into our soil, water sources, and our ecosystem.

To continue with our low waste lifestyle study, we now plan to use alternatives to reduce our amount of waste. We will do so by using reusable shopping bags instead of plastic bags, reusable water bottles instead of plastic cups, metal straws instead of plastic straws, etc. Also, recycling will be better incorporated into our households.

As we plan to change our lifestyles, we challenge you to do as well.

Consider the amount of waste building up in your household and how using some of these alternatives can help to reduce waste production. By making these changes in our lifestyle now, we are promoting a healthier, safer, and more efficient environment for the future.

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