Cut Down on Plastic: Bring Your Own Utensils and Water Bottles

Lillian Clark '24, Contributor

Excessive waste is a current problem at Loomis Chaffee, as the school has turned to plastic single-use utensils and cups for safety reasons during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, Loomis Chaffee’s environmental proctors asked everyone to bring their own utensils and water bottle to meals. Is this a reasonable demand to the Loomis Chaffee community? The answer is yes, absolutely.

Bringing your own utensils and water bottle to the dining hall for meals is completely reasonable. In fact, everyone ought to make an effort to do so. Especially now that the dining hall is allowing bags to be taken into the seating areas, it is easier than ever to carry your own fork, knife, and spoon.

Water bottles may seem like a nuisance to carry around all day; however, they are worth the hassle. You are not only helping the environment by not using plastic containers: you’re saving money as well. About 16 water bottle refilling stations are spread across campus and these remain open.

With all of the concerns surrounding the climate crisis, many large and notable companies have made plans to waste less and reduce their carbon footprint. A few of these companies are Starbucks, Disney, and Nike, and they are not alone.

Loomis Chaffee has already taken multiple steps this year towards shrinking the school’s carbon footprint. While the school’s environmental groups have created special bins for compost, they have also placed a responsibility on the students to help downsize the school’s carbon footprint.

Can your one single-use plastic fork per meal really have that big of an impact? Whenever posed with these questions, think about the compounding impact of your actions over time: if you only use single-use plastic utensils for meals, that’s three forks per day, twenty-one per week.

Does that still seem small after multiplying by the population size of Loomis Chaffee? Let’s do a rough estimate. Say there are approximately 700 people on campus eating three meals a day, seven days a week, using 21 forks each per week. 700 times 21 is 14,700 plastic forks! Even as an overestimate, the figure still represents a significant amount of plastic. Of course, this estimate is without including knives, spoons, or other single-use plastic items.

Waste in landfills has been accumulating over the years, and now more than ever we can see the impacts. Trash and plastic have been spilling into the ocean, have been ingested by wildlife, and have killed thousands of animals due to the harsh chemicals in plastic.

People have been throwing out more waste than ever in the past seven to eight months. Lots of the trash is personal waste, as new restrictions like not allowing reusable bags at grocery stores limit our ability to reduce waste. The pandemic has also introduced more direct compromises to our ability to be environmentally friendly- as demands for crucial workers and first responders increase. These essential workers consume vast amounts of personal protection equipment, much of which is disposed of immediately after use.

Knowing the environmental stress the pandemic situation demands, reducing waste is the least we can do for the common good.