More than 350 million tons of plastics are manufactured each year, and it continues to rise. That translates to 1 million plastic bottles per minute. People in the US purchase about 50 billion water bottles per year, averaging about 13 bottles per month for every person in the U.S. 91% of these are not recycled. Average sized plastic bottles take 500 years to fully decompose.
These facts are scary.
This is why New Vista High School’s fall 2018 CAP class has devoted their time to creating a project that will, hopefully, motivate other students to start using non-disposable containers for their food rather than single-use plastic and Styrofoam products. Simply using a reusable water bottle could save an average of 156 plastic bottles annually, so imagine how much plastic would be kept out of our environment if we refused all plastic utensils, straws, to-go containers and cups.
Our goal is not to scare people out of using plastic, but to inform them about how much it’s killing our earth so that they make the conscious decision on their own, and hopefully spread the information themselves.
To do this, we went to restaurants near New Vista, ones frequently visited by students during lunch, and ask that they put our orders into reusable containers. For example, Noodles & Company put our food in a tupperware bowl and a sandwich bag, and Taco Bell to put our drink in a reusable cup, each brought from home. This is to convince students that “if it can be put in a sandwich bag, it can be put in anything”- meaning, it’s not a legitimate inconvenience to bring reusable containers, it’s actually very easy.
We filmed this process and shared it with our school. Click here to see the final project!
We also designed a mural at the suggestion of E Movement Coordinator Brad Smith. Brad had the idea that if we are going to create a more beautiful, more sustainable future, we need public art projects that allow people to see a glimpse of the beautiful future they are aiming for.
Public art projects have huge potential. They serve to remind the community of its ideals and help to visually interpret things that are highly conceptual. By illustrating a group’s priorities, a piece of public art can serve as a concrete symbol for a city or town’s values. Just consider the semi-stale issue of Confederate statues – they were so contentious because they reflected principles.
Our class has embarked on a new project – a mural representing a youth perspective on ‘utopia.’ It serves as a reverse personification – making people part of the earth and speaking on the nature of ‘nature’ as it relates to humankind. We wanted to play with the idea of human exceptionalism by inflating or deflating the size and influence of certain animals and objects in the mural. Hands represent the importance of facilitating natural recovery.
Through this mural, we hope that people will pause and dream of a world that could be so we know what we’re fighting for. Anything is possible.
Written by CAP students Pearl Haddad,Hanna Van Heusden, and Livi Davis (edited by CAP Instructor Amy Atkins)
See more photos from the project here!