The Plastic War-Zone

Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma — anything of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

I stepped into the war zone of the counseling office and grimaced at the towers of styrofoam cups and cases of Dasani water, the enemies in my battle ahead to change our school’s environmental mindset. I was determined; time to care for the environment, time to create a cultural shift towards sustainability at my high school's statewide college fair, an event with thousands of attendees. My goal was to eliminate 3,000 plastic water bottles and replace them with refillable stations, reusables and compostables. “Too hard!” said the organizers, unwilling to let go of the ease of single use bottles. They were worried about pulling off such a change. Honestly, so was I.

But my environmental conscience wouldn’t allow me to sit back as my school and community added to the devastation that plastic bottles bring to our world. Single-use bottles are overwhelming our environment, poisoning life, land, and oceans. This was a battle worth winning, and eventually, after I developed a bombproof proposal, the organizers could not help but admit it was the right thing to do, and jumped onboard. With their support, I felt stronger and got to work.

For weeks, I applied for grant money, designed a catchy campaign, organized water stations,...

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