It was a viral video of a marine biologist removing a plastic straw from a sea turtle’s nose that inspired people to think more about the impact trash has on the environment.

Was it enough to make a difference?

The United States makes up about 5 percent of the world’s population but produces about 30 percent of the world’s waste.

Every day, the average American produces about 5.91 pounds of trash. In California that number is even higher with Orange County being almost double.

Why does one of the most powerful nations produce the most waste in the world? Simply because we can afford to.

More consumption begets more waste production. We can afford to purchase more clothing in an attempt to be more on trend, sending clothes from last season straight to the trash.

We can afford to get coffee from Starbucks five times a week but far too many times fail to bring a reusable cup.

We can afford to prioritize convenience over cost. We choose to use paper plates when we don’t feel like doing the dishes and we choose plastic water bottles over reusable ones because we don’t want to carry them around when we are done.

We make these choices in attempt to make our lives more convenient without giving a second thought to where our waste goes after we throw it in the trashcan.

When you see a picture of plastic piled on a beach or a video of a turtle with a straw up its nose, it impacts you but then you forget about it. What are you doing in your life to be part of the change?

Maybe you can reduce the amount of shopping you do. Maybe you can refuse things that are offered to you that you know you don’t need. Maybe you can buy less food wrapped in plastic at the grocery store. Maybe you can just start carrying around your own cup for when you stop at Starbucks.

Small changes do make a difference. Although it seems much easier to turn a blind eye to the impact our choices have on our environment, there will come a time when we can’t do that any longer and that time might come sooner than we think.

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