In the last century, a synthetic material was produced on the basis of low costs of production in addition to the convenience of single-use followed by disposal. This, however, has evolved into one of the major concerns in the world in recent years. The environmental effects from the use of plastic items are detrimental due to their non-degradable nature, as opposed to materials such as paper. Typically, after a single use, they are disposed into the landfills and storm sewers, congesting the system as well as polluting the ocean. They will likely remain so for an extended timeline, which leads to the matter in discussion.
Much like other concerning issues, many organizations and associations, in addition to the government, have implemented plans against the use of plastic. Several nations have implemented bans and taxations on the use of plastic bags in particular.
While Taiwan has initiated a ban on plastic items that are only utilized once, such as straws, cups and shopping bags, the Western hemisphere is directing their efforts on plastic straws. This is largely due to the statistical findings that suggest plastic straws make up a slight percentage of the overall plastic items that are crowding the beaches and the oceans. Scotland is attempting to discard all plastic straws by the year of 2019. Measures such as the ban on plastic straws in restaurants have already been initiated in the States. These cities are Miami Beach and Fort Myers in the state of Florida, Davis and San Luis Obispo in California and Seattle. The city of Malibu in California is the most recent addition after the City Council voted in favor of the ban on Monday. Other coastal cities such as Berkeley, California, on top of numerous dining establishments in the country, have also begun to follow in their footsteps.
Diana Lofflin, the founder of Strawfree.org, an activist organization based in San Diego explains the reason behind all this focus on plastic straws. “I think a lot of people feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the plastic problem, giving up plastic straws is a small step and an easy thing for people to get started on. From there, we can move on to larger projects,” she stated. Although this may be true, a major organization in the plastic industry insinuates that legal procedures are not the correct approach to the issue.
The American Chemistry Council came up with a different approach, which requires the cooperation of the restaurants in supplying plastic straws only if a consumer directly asks for it. Steve Russell, the Vice President of the organization’s plastic division believes through this ‘on-demand’ way, there will be no additional waste. Scott DeFite, the Vice President of government affairs for the Plastics Industry Association blatantly stated that the problem in the environment, along with the pollution in the ocean is much more complicated and lies far beyond these plastic straws. He strongly believes the problems lie behind waste management and the solution should be to increase resources in that area. While the plastic straws may not be the real solution to revive the environment, these measures could function as a way to raise awareness to generate more public support in environmental-friendly entities. Needless to say, this is not an efficient method to actually reduce wastes and pollutions in the long run, yet again, however minor a change is, it is still an improvement. A small step is always better than remaining stationary.
Aside from that, this is an action that can be done by anyone regardless of their social class, power and ability such that children are able to contribute. This is extremely important because today’s youths are tomorrows’ leaders and by imparting these ideologies onto them, we can hope for a brighter future as they bear that in mind with every step that they take. Within a couple of decades, a whole new generation will rise into power. Hence, if they learn the value of things today, they will build a new future with the desired goal in mind and make a change.
On a larger narrative, however, all synthetic materials, including plastic items, that is damaging and non-degradable should be eliminated altogether on a global scale in order to bring about an actual improvement. With the advancement in science and technology in this era, several alternatives may be used to substitute these items. Nonetheless, the general public should play their part in saving the environment by simply putting a stop to single-use items.
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