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People have been walking on this planet for many ages, but have people recognized the condition of it? Even though the planet we live in might seem like a safe and friendly environment, there is more to think about in addition to the positive aspects of the earth. The earth itself has been polluted in many aspects, and it can be hard to call the place we live in home because of this. What is so troubling is that it is us humans that is causing all of the pollution as our environment doesn’t really do anything on its own. Certain factors that have helped made our planet polluted include water bottles, plastic bags, and nonrenewable energy resources.
Water bottles are a significant factor of causing our environment to become polluted. The water in the bottles might be pure, but it isn’t the water that is causing the pollution. It is actually bottle itself that causes the problem. A lot of the water bottles are made out of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), but manufacturing it takes a lot of energy to do so. According to a journal article titled “Energy Implications of Bottled Water,” the energy is “embodied in PET material itself, and additional energy is required to turn PET into bottles. This energy is typically supplied by natural gas and petroleum, along with electricity from the local city grid” (Gleick 3). It really takes a lot of energy just to produce one bottle of water, even though the bottle may not look that big. They really do use a lot of resources, and they pollute the environment. The natural gases and petroleum both are environmental concerns already, along with the amount of electricity used. The true problem is the amount of it being used. In order to produce the amount of water bottles that is produced each year (29 billion), you would need around 17 million barrels of crude oil; That is enough oil to keep a million cars running for a year. It takes an amount of a quarter of the bottle full of oil to create the water bottle itself. Since all of these materials are being wasted, it could be harder to create more energy in this world.
A lot of people argue that tap water is more pure than bottled water, but it isn’t always true. There is a possibility that the water being drank can have harmful chemicals in it such as pesticides due to run-off. According to the journal article, “FDA Safety and Consumer Protections are Often Less Stringent than Comparable EPA Protections for Tap Water,” there have been tests that are “conducted by [various groups] to show that bottled water isn’t [really] cleaner than tap water” (Stephenson 1). The bottled water does look clean compared to tap water, but the quality isn’t always perfect. What makes the quality of the water questionable is that the bottled water industry doesn’t always have to release any possible results to the public as opposed to tap water testing. Tap water comes from the faucet, and it is used all over the community, so the government has to make sure that it is tested. Bottled water is just another product that is people buy, and there doesn’t really have to be any revealed test results about it because it isn’t required by the government. Even though there are filters that make the dirty water clean, it is impossible to get 100% H2O AKA pure water. There could be a certain chemical that is hard to detect, and to filter out. It can sound like doing drugs at the same time while drinking the water because harmful chemicals could be in the water. The chemicals in bottled water could even help make the water look clear in order to hide any special effect to it. There are even plasticizers in water bottles that could help increase the strength of the water bottle, but also could potentially contaminate the water along with the chemicals.
It may sound bad to start drinking tap water over bottled water, but not everyone can drink clean water. There are people in poor countries such as those in Africa that can’t get clean drinking water because of the scarcity of it. They have to dig from the lake that has been polluted for many ages, and it contains a lot of bacteria. People in these areas really want to drink cleaner water such as tap water even though there is a debate over tap water not being as clean as bottled water. Some people just don’t see the big picture about how lucky they are, and not see others that are not as fortunate as them. It doesn’t mean that people should start drinking water that they find anywhere, but carefully think about their options. What people could be doing is not only saving the environment, but they can also save themselves.
When people finish drinking the water bottles, they are thrown away. Most of these bottles are not recycled, and a lot of them end up being thrown on the streets. This process is called littering, and it leads to more trash. The more trash we have in our environment, the more pollution created. There is enough trash in this world already, and adding water bottles to the trash already lying around in the environment is not the best idea. These water bottles also take a long time to decompose, and there isn’t a single water bottle that has decomposed yet. It could take so many centuries or even a millennium to have the water bottle finally decompose. Since water bottles take so much time to decompose, it really helps when a water bottle is recycled. The more water bottles recycled, the more resources saved, and energy is also saved as well. Even one water bottle could make a huge difference because it requires so much oil to make water bottles.
Another big contributor to the pollution is plastic bags. People like to use them for holding groceries after they are purchased. They aren’t really recyclable, and they have to be thrown into the dump with the rest of the trash group. It is really bad because they don’t biodegrade, but photodegrade. Even after so many years, the plastic bags are still there. They are just broken down into smaller pieces, and that could contaminate soil and water ways. Plastic bags are already made out of recycled materials, so recycling them can’t really help solve a problem. Burning plastic bags won’t really help either because more air pollution will be released in our environment, and toxic fumes can result. Once there is more pollution in our environment, it can stay there for a while. It doesn’t magically go away, but will go away over time if we clean it up or dispose of the threats. If there is more pollution in our environment, it will keep on increasing if nothing is done about it. Humans can really take action on not using plastic bags, and can start using other alternatives such as bringing their own bag to the store when they buy something.
In some stores, there could be a possible option of choosing between paper and plastic. It might seem obvious to pick the paper bag over the plastic bag, but it is really is not that obvious. Plastic bags do cause a lot of problems in our environment, but paper bags also cause problems in our environment too. They are made out of paper of course, and paper comes from trees. In fact, several million trees are being cut down each year for the production of paper bags. It is bad because it leads to deforestation, and there will be less oxygen in our environment due to the fact that there would be fewer trees in the environment. Paper bags are also harder to produce than plastic bags because they require a lot more energy to produce them, and that also causes pollution. Paper bags can even be recycled more easier than plastic bags because they are biodegradable, but they can’t break down in landfills due to the lack of elements such as water and sunlight. Although paper bags might seem like a better alternative to plastic bags, it isn’t the perfect solution to them because they still carry out problems. That is why people should start bringing their own reusable bags to stores. More resources will be saved, and less materials will be wasted.
One possible solution is to ban usage of plastic bags. According to the journal “Plastic Bags – Prolific Problems,” plastic bags are “taxed in Ireland and banned in Bangladesh. [They cause] litter problems, [so] the Irish government [started] charging shoppers a €0.15 tax on every bag used. [In Bangladesh], drainage clogs caused by wayward bags contributed to floods, [so] Bangladesh banned them from its capital city” (Spivey A208). Basically, other countries are trying to help ban the use of plastic bags. The governments in certain countries can outright ban the bag if they are strict enough, or they can help tax users for the bag if not as strict. Some stores in the US are also encouraging people to bring their own reusable bags in order to get a discount in order to support the cause of not using plastic bags. Other stores may require you to bring your own bag or else you will have to pay for a plastic bag from the store. The stores wanting you to bring reusable bags are only a limited percentage, and not really a universal percentage. The conversion from the use plastic bags to reusable bags might sound unfair to some people due to the convenience of plastic bags, but it can be really necessary in the end. The environment itself will not only be saved from the pollution from production of these bags, but the lives of the animals will be saved as well.
The plastic bags eventually end up in the ocean, where there are a bunch of living creatures. According to the journal “The Plastic Baggers: An Evaluation of a Boutique Cause in Targeted Environmentalism,” the marine environment is greatly affected because “plastic bag litter [kills] at least 100,000 birds, whales, seals and turtles every year. After an animal is killed by plastic bags, its body decomposes and the plastic is released back into the environment where it can kill again” (Wilks 12). The plastic bags really harm all sorts of wild and marine life along with clogging up the waterway. Basically, the plastic bag is like a reusable weapon because the same bag can kill lots of lives. What basically happens is that the marine creatures will see the plastic bag, and think it is food. They start to eat the plastic bag, and then their digestive tract is clogged. The marine animals will die because their intestines will be clogged. The marine lives don’t really know the difference between what is food and what it is not, so keeping the ocean clean will only make it fair to them.
Some sea creatures are also endangered, and will eventually become extinct if nothing is done about plastic bags. Extinction of certain sea creatures will be a problem that will be caused by humans because it isn’t the environment that is doing anything, but the humans themselves. It is like our inventions could have a double sword to them because they can seem like a good concept, but have some various consequences along the way. We can also be affected because endangering marine life will affect fisherman due to shortages occurring in certain types of fish. With certain shortage in certain fish, it will affect the overall food chain. That can include humans in there as well because we are the ones that are eating the fish. The economy is also affected by this as well because less money will be flowing out also due to the shortages, which could lead to a scarcity. The price of certain types of fish could be increased by a lot because it would become hard to find that certain type. Any fish lovers should think twice about disposing their plastic bags because they would also be affected.
Nonrenewable energy is one of the biggest contributors of pollution because it is used in everyday life though various applications. Some of the energy resources we use are petroleum, coal, natural gases, and nuclear electric power. The problem is not only that they have some negative impact in our environment, but it is that we are depleting them at an exponential rate. According to the journal article titled “Understanding Nonrenewable Energy Supply Behavior,” The supply process for “nonrenewable resources in general, and for oil and natural gas in particular, is very complex and difficult to describe in a simple theory. Oil and gas production involves many stages in the process of developing and extracting the resource, with complicated dynamic interrelations operating both within and among stages in the process” (Bohi 927). The production of nonrenewable energy resources is already difficult, and wasting them will mean wasted work from production. It hurts us in the fact in two ways because we are putting so much work into creating nonrenewable energy resources as opposed to converting to renewable energy resources, and using them when they are polluting the environment at the same time.
The solution to nonrenewable energy resources is alternative energy resources. Although finding an alternative energy resource is proven to be a hard task, it is not impossible. Even companies such as automobile companies are starting to find ways to replace a nonrenewable resource which is oil. They have been coming up with these biofuels that are created from dead biological materials. It is good because it reduces greenhouse gases better compared to other resources such as gas and ethanol. Biofuel is even better for the car because it not only burns cleaner, but has greater lubrication. The gas prices are also high as well due to the scarcity of oil, so switching to an alternative could help the economy as well.
One thing to note is that America is already slowly converting to alternative energy resources. According to a journal article titled “Alternative Energy Sources,” there are “alternative technological solutions [that have been] presented. These alternatives range from the utilization of constantly occurring passive energy flows for natural ventilation, heating and cooling to the more technological integrated natural energy systems. [They] integrate varying means for using solar energy [and] wind energy” (Davis 31). Since there is already means of alternative energy out there, there should be a conversion already happening right away, but conversion doesn’t really happen right away. It is mainly due to the pricing of certain components such as solar panels and wind blades. If it was not really for the pricing of these components, we would be already converted a long time ago. Converting to all off these resources could take so many years because of all these problems.
The question that one might ask is about when we are going to be fully converted to renewable energy resources. The answer could vary depending on the development of energy resources, and it could take around 30-40 years to do so. However, the conversion could occur even faster if we all take part in conserving energy. Since it is us humans that are starting the problem, we can help end it gradually. One person may not be enough to help save energy, but a community can help save numerous. What people have to realize is that energy can be wasted very mindlessly, and it doesn’t really take a lot of thinking in order to use the energy. It does require a lot thinking in order to use the energy efficiently and wisely. If enough people think about the energy that they conserve, they really can made a difference in the environment. There is nonrenewable energy already being used every second in this world, but the amount being used per second can change if an effort is made. Even though it is true that energy can’t really be created or destroyed, but transferred, it doesn’t mean that all energy is actually renewable. The energy would just be changed into more pollution, and that pollution could be energy that is renewable. With less pollution, there would be a higher chance to convert into renewable energy.
Overall, our environment is polluted by us humans, and it can be hard to call this planet home. Although the planet is polluted, there are a bunch of things we can do to help the environment become a cleaner place since it doesn’t really do anything on its own. We can start drinking less plastic bottles of water in order to reduce the trash in our environment, and help protect ourselves from the potentially dangerous chemicals in the bottles. The water bottles can take centuries to a millennium to decompose, so it is our job to prevent pollution from them in the first place. We can also help pick up trash because one less trash could lead to a cleaner environment. There are also a lot of people that could not be too fortunate in this world to drink clean water, and have to dig from lakes that have been polluted for so many ages.
Another thing we can do to help our environment is to use less plastic bags, and bring our own bags. Plastic bags are not biodegradable, but they photodegrade instead. Some countries such as Bangladesh have banned plastic bags, and others such as Ireland have taxed people for them. Even though there is an option to use paper bags instead, they still cause problems in our environment. It takes a whole lot more energy to produce a paper bag than a plastic bag. Trees are also being cut down to make paper bags, and that causes deforestation. There are also creatures such as birds, whales, seals, and turtles that are being affected by plastic bags because they are being killed by them. Plastic bags don’t “go away,” so they are recycled back into the environment to kill other creatures.
The biggest thing we can do in our environment is to conserve energy. We can use less oil, and focus more on biofuel since it reduces greenhouse gases easily. We can turn off the light every time we leave the room, and shut down any appliances when we are done with them. The energy saved might be low from one person, but a lot will be saved if we work as an entire community. By doing this, we can help with the transition from nonrenewable energy to renewable energy such as solar energy and wind energy. It is also expensive to convert due to the pricing of various components, so we will have more time to get these components if everyone contributes to the cause. The nonrenewable resources are also being depleted exponentially as well as polluting the environment, and we will eventually run out of them if we don’t act fast.
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