Orange County Register

Trash to Student: Wake Up!

We Each Bore the Burden of Our Consumption On Our Backs

In the middle of my final semester at Cal State Fullerton, I received a frightening call. My graduation status had been reviewed and something was missing. I was one unit short of graduating.

After the shock subsided, I frantically looked for and found a one-unit, five-week chemistry course that was still available for registration. This was my only hope. So I reluctantly added the course, Environmental Pollution and its Solutions: Land Pollution, though I had not taken a science class in about three years.

The course was transformational. Each lecture touched on an environmental problem and several possible solutions. Then came the trash awareness lecture. Oh, joy! America is a land of freedom and consumption. People enjoy shopping, myself included. We're all trying to keep up with the latest and greatest. My professor, Scott Hewitt, then posed the question, "When the trends change where does all this stuff go?" The answer: in the trash.

Professor Hewitt then assigned the most unusual project I have ever completed in my academic career: the trash bag awareness project. For the next 48 hours, each of the students in the course was required to carry around two 1-gallon trash bags for collecting all of our consumption waste. One bag was for recyclable items and the other was for nonrecyclables.

There was no time to prepare for this project because professor Hewitt provided the trash bags in class to signify the beginning of our 48-hour task. Yes, we each bore the burden of our consumption on our backs, literally. Continue reading.

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