Changing the Planet One Utensil at a Time
By Maggy Wolanske
Reporting Texas TV
AUSTIN, Texas – Displeased with the immense amount of plastic being thrown away in their dining hall, two UT students launched a social media campaign on Instagram.
Isabel Webb Carey and Michael Dobrowski launched @realonesreuse to advocate for the reduction of plastic used in UT dining facilities. The Instagram account has 300 followers with posts featuring UT students using reusable utensils in the dining facilities.
“Michael and I had kind of talked and expressed a mutual concern over the amount of plastic used at UT on campus. It really concerned us, the kind of apathy people have for the amount of plastic they’re consuming on a daily basis,” Carey said.
They calculated that a student eating four meals a day throws out around 70 pieces of utensils a week.
“The point is to promote reusable silverware and some reusable food-related items on campus because the dining halls only provide single-use plastics,” Dobrowski said.
Posts on their page feature a student holding up reusable utensils and a caption including additional information on the individual.
Sruthi Ramaswamy, a UT freshman, was featured smiling and showcasing her reusable fork.
“It was cool to be featured, because I really do respect what they’re doing and the purpose of the whole Instagram account. It’s a really fun way to involve people and friends around campus to promote the same set image,” Ramaswamy said.
Kate Conklin, a freshman featured on Real Ones Reuse, said guilt played a part in her motivation for purchasing reusable utensils.
“I honestly just felt bad at the beginning of the semester because I was getting reusable plastic and boxes three times a day, sometimes more, from the dining hall. I didn’t want to waste so much so I had my own silverware and I thought I might as well bring it with me when I go,” said Conklin.
Students who do not have reusable utensils from home can purchase them at Target on Guadalupe Street like Carey did.
“My favorite part about this account is people have come up to me and said guess what I just did? I went and bought utensils,” Carey said.
The addition of reusable cutlery to one’s meal can help reduce the growing amounts of plastic located in the UT dining facilities.
“It adds up: the water bottles, the plastic forks, and plastic silverware. If one or two or even fifteen of us can [use reusable utensils], we can actually make an impact on how much we are using from the UT campus,” Conklin said.