A Simple but Innovative Approach to an Eco-Friendly World

Aug 14, 2018

Mercedes Debesa
These are some eco-friendly products that students can use on a daily basis.

Life as we know it can sometimes get so hectic that we fail to realize what is actually happening in the world around us. As a result, we often don’t notice how much we are affecting the Earth and our ecosystems with the decisions we make. People tend to not see simple decisions, such as using a plastic bag, as harmful to the environment when compared to other, more obvious endangering factors; however, in some cases, what may seem less harmful can be the most damaging.

Florida’s coral reefs are home to 2,000 species of animals and plants, which means that it is one of the third largest coral reefs in the United States. However, over the years scientists have discovered that almost half of the reef has deteriorated due in part to human activity such as an excessive use of plastics. To prevent other instances like this from happening, here are some new innovative designs that companies have been creating to make everyday necessities less destructive to the environment.

Stainless Steel Straws 

Mercedes Debesa
Stainless steel straws are a good alternative to plastic straws.

Have you ever wondered how a seemingly harmless straw can cause so much damage? What many don’t realize is that plastic straws are produced with harmful toxins that pollute the environment when they decompose, which can take up to 200 years to occur, meaning that many straws are stacking up in landfills and hurting marine life. If you want to save the turtles, then stainless steel straws are a better alternative since you can reuse the straw! By pledging to reduce the number of plastic straws you use,  you are giving marine animals the opportunity to live in an environment that is less harmful than the one they have now. Although it might be annoying having to wash the straws thoroughly each time you use them, taking a minute out your day to wash something is worth it when you know that you are improving the quality of life for both humans and animals.

BPA Free Water bottles 

Mercedes Debesa
Plastic water bottles take almost 500 years to disintegrate and are held up in landfills.

We all have that moment when we are too lazy to fill up our water bottles, so we instead grab a plastic water bottle from the fridge. However, what many do not take into account is that the production of water bottles releases many harmful chemicals into the air. Usually, plastic water bottles take a long time to diminish, so they end up in landfills for years. If you want to stray away from this, many companies such as Klean Kanteen have created a safer and cheaper alternative to the everyday use of plastic water bottles.

“For years now my parents have been using tap water since its more convenient and cheaper. They have always preferred refilling their water bottles or glass cups instead of going out to the store and buying a whole case of plastic water bottles,” senior Victor Hernandez said.

Eco-friendly  Sunscreen

Mercedes Debesa
A lot of the time sunscreen is made with a harmful toxin that can destroy coral reefs and marine life.

Despite the fact the that many of us love to cool off at the beach on a hot Miami day, we fail to realize the consequences of the sunscreen we apply and its impact on the environment. Most people don’t know that the chemicals used in sunscreen are taking a toll on ocean life. Sunscreen has a certain ingredient called oxybenzone, which damages coral reefs and has led to the deterioration of these over the years. Next time when you’re looking at what sunscreen you are going to buy, you should look for options that do not contain oxybenzone.

Reusable Storage Bags

Mercedes Debesa
These bags are great to store dry food and are really easy to wash again.

Storing food in plastic containers has always been the most convenient option when storing leftovers or even just packing your lunch for the next day. Nevertheless, there are more eco-friendly ways to store your food. For instance, to avoid using plastic, you can use glass containers or reusable bags rather than single-use plastic ones. These reusable bags are easy to turn inside out and wash when you are on the go and need to take lunch.

“A lot of the plastic that we assume will be recycled doesn’t actually get recycled. Some of it ends up in the ocean where unassuming sea life might try to eat it. Most plastic material isn’t biodegradable which means it doesn’t really ever break down to its original chemical components but breaks down to microplastics, which a fish might mistake for food,” junior Bowen Murley said.

We tend to be careless and fail to realize how little things, such as those mentioned previously, can have such a harmful effect on the environment. Recently, the City of Coral Gables has prohibited the use of plastic bags in retail stores and restaurants in order to encourage a more eco-friendly city. Although this is a great step in the right direction, you can do your part as well by incorporating these eco-friendly products into your everyday routine.

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About the Contributors
Photo of Miguel Lemus
Miguel Lemus, Staff Writer

Miguel Lemus is a junior in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at Coral Gables High School.  Lemus is excited to see what the school year will...

Photo of Mercedes Debesa
Mercedes Debesa, Artist

Entering her junior year in the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, Mercedes Debesa is excited for her first year as an artist in CavsConnect. Since...

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