Dear Readers on Youth Voices,
If you are unaware of the plastic pollution that is occurring in our modern day society, then the problem that is currently occurring is that we, worldwide as human beings, are producing a large amount of plastic which is harming our environment. Not only is just plastic, in general, harming our environment, but single-use plastic, which is the plastic we discard after a one time use. What solutions to this problem will reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste that enters the ocean? Well, there are many ways to solve this problem such as placing bans on single-use plastic specifically, adding extra taxes to single-use plastic, and many other solutions that are meant to reduce plastic. Based on this, federal and local governments should not ban single-use plastic, unless it is highly enforced, instead the better solution is to enforce the use of better alternatives to plastic than some that harm the environment like paper bags and add additional charges on purchases of single-use plastics, such as plastic bags, plastic bottles, and more, excluding some that are beneficial.
There are many reasons as to why plastic should not be banned, but the main reason is that it will not work. It will not work because unless the ban is heavily enforced, people will just ignore it. For example, in Kenya, there was a bag ban that was passed and according to a website about the topic, it stated that “Once it took effect, the ban prompted the creation of ‘bag cartels’ that smuggled illegal plastic bags from neighboring Uganda and Tanzania” (Parker 1). Not only does that show that bans need to be enforced in order to work, but it shows that there are ways around the bans that allow people to still get access to plastic bags. There is another big reason as to why bans won’t work that well.
In addition, another reason that the outright banning of all plastic won’t work is that “This material is a huge part of our lives; it’s in everything from electronics and food packaging to medical devices and airplanes” (Anastasia 1). Although for some parts of life, single-use plastic is not needed, it is highly important in certain aspects in our lives because it is many necessary items that are needed and don’t yet have a better alternative, unlike the unnecessary plastic items that do. This incorporates to why some solutions won’t work because it plastic is used in many parts of our lives, so banning it could cause plastic that is used for important reasons to be prohibited, so it will take time to adjust back due to the importance that some plastic had. Yet, this brings up the topic of how beneficial single-use plastic can be and why additional charges should not be put upon it.
Why should there not be additional charges on purchases of some beneficial single-use plastics? In terms of single-use plastic, there are actually many of them that are extremely beneficial in our lives. Some single-use plastic has a high significance in certain aspects such as for medical or scientific purposes. For example, “Having a blood test requires gloves made from plastic, a plastic syringe, and a plastic vial-all of which are single-use contamination and infection” (Harvey 2). This is important because these are some benefits that have significance in saving the lives of others or conducting research and more. So, the plastics that assist such as gloves, plastic syringes, and more should not be banned or have charges placed upon it based on the importance it has.
Although plastic pollution is a problem, single-use plastic like plastic bags actually uses fewer resources to be made. Apparently, more resources are needed to make alternatives such as bags made of cotton, paper, or other materials that require more resources than plastic bags. According to the World Resources Institute, it states that “An organic cotton bag must be reused 20,000 times to produce less of an environmental impact than a single-use plastic bag. That would be like using a cotton bag every day for nearly 55 years” (Stanislaus 1). This means that some of the alternatives to plastic bags can cause environmental problems which means that much better alternatives that don’t cause harm should be promoted.
The alternatives that are not paper bags or alternatives that harm the environment in any way should be excluded from additional charges being placed on purchases of it. Researchers are attempting to discover other alternatives to single-use plastic that will not be harmful to our environment. For example, a group of students was able to create machines that helped turn lobster shells into a form of biodegradable plastic. According to the video which had details about this discovery, the co-founder of the company, The Shellworks, Andrew Edwards stated that, “We found this biopolymer inside crustacean shells called chitin that you can treat in a certain way to extract and actually make bioplastic of those shells” (Insider 00:01:18 – 00:04:33). This is important to know because this method not only recycles the lobster shells that are discarded, but the shells can be used to solve an actual problem and provide us with biodegradable plastic which could eventually minimize the harm done on the environment. With these alternatives and better ones that might soon be discovered, the environmental impacts of plastic bags and its other harmful alternatives can be reduced.
Overall, single-use plastic, that isn’t beneficial in terms of research, saving lives, and more should have additional charges placed on purchases along with encouraging the use of better alternatives. Single-use plastic doesn’t necessarily have to be banned in order to reduce the plastic pollution, instead, the use of alternatives should be encouraged, so that people will use the alternatives more than regular single-use plastic. Placing additional charges on purchases of single-use plastic is a possible solution to the plastic problem because it will not be completely taken away from people’s lives. This means that plastic purchases can slowly be reduced when better alternatives are promoted without the additional charges placed on its purchases.
A student from Gompers Preparatory Academy,