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The Problem of Single Use Plastic and The Need to Eliminate It

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About this sample

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Words: 2222 |

Pages: 2|

12 min read

Published: Aug 16, 2019

Words: 2222|Pages: 2|12 min read

Published: Aug 16, 2019

Table of contents

  1. Essay on elimination of single-use plastic
  2. Why plastic is so popular
  3. The need to reduce single use plastic
  4. Conclusion
  5. Works Cited

Essay on elimination of single-use plastic

It’s 6:30 am on a Monday morning, and you are just not sure how you are going to make it through another long day at work. The only possible way this morning could get any better is if you had an extra large iced coffee. So, you head down to your local Dutch Bros and wait in an hour-long line for your drink. The coffee is served to you in a giant plastic cup, accompanied by our favorite form of plastic…the drinking straw! Your coffee tastes decent, and you finish it by the time you arrive at work. Walking in the door you toss your used cup in the garbage can, not even thinking about who that plastic cup may affect next or where it might end up. After all, the cup was only designed for one single use. We are all victims of making choices like these. Plastic is everywhere, and we are surrounded by it, “It’s in the single-use packaging we discard, the consumer goods that fill our stores, and in our clothing, which sheds microplastic fibers in the wash”. To discuss the issue of single use plastic, this essay analyzes the causes of its popularity and the need to eliminate its use.

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Why plastic is so popular

Plastic is convenient. It is easy to make, have, and use, making it popular, “In addition to packaging, the popularity of single-use products has precipitated an increase in plastic waste. Such products include plastic eating utensils, plates, beverage bottles, drinking straws, coffee stirrers, and menstrual products” (Plastic Waste). Because these products provide us with so much convenience, it is also super easy to throw away! Just think about all of the plastic products we use daily that are only meant to be used a single time. After we use them, we throw these products out. Creating tons and tons of plastic waste every year. This leading to the current single-use plastic epidemic that our world is facing today. We live in a world where we say “it is only a matter of time” quite often. “It is only a matter of time before all ocean life dies.” “It is only a matter of time before our trash fills every inch of the planet.” How sad is it that we are okay with saying sentences like these? We talk about how bad plastic is as we are drinking out of plastic water bottles! We pick plastic when asked “paper or plastic?” at the grocery store. We drink our daily coffees out of a plastic cup just to throw them in the trash an hour later. Sure, plastic is convenient, but because it is so harmful to our environment there needs to be a change. The way we are living our current everyday lives is hurting our environment more than we even know. A change needs to be made, and that change needs to be banning single-use plastic from our lives. Our everyday life choices need a change.

Plastic products have become part of our lifestyle, and in no way is this our fault. Plastic companies have brainwashed us into thinking we NEED plastic products. Why one may ask? Because plastic is convenient and very easy to use. Plastic has become a habit. One that we desperately need to break. Studies have shown that up to ten percent of the plastic we dispose of yearly ends up in the ocean. That adds up to 700 billion plastic bottles just floating in our ocean every year! Billions of water bottles out there killing and polluting our ocean life, “At current rates plastic is expected to outweigh all the fish in the sea by 2050” (Ocean Plastics Pollution). If we don’t stop ourselves and stop the production of plastic products, the consequences will be dramatic, and world changing. We need to be smarter about the products we chose to buy and how we chose to dispose of them. Single-use plastic has harsh consequences, and it is time we realize this. We have grown dependent on single-use plastic products such as plastic lunch bags, containers, and water bottles. Just because they provide a little bit more convenience to us we are willing to put our environment at risk: Yes, it’s scary to think about a world where one has to carry around a reusable bag or worry about a paper drinking straw falling apart mid…Oh, wait. Knowing that every piece of plastic manufactured on Earth is still with us and that if we don’t cut back now, there will eventually be more plastic than fish in the ocean–that’s the truly frightening thought. (The Times Editorial Board). The problem is right in front of us, yet so many people still choose to ignore it. Haven’t there been enough signs to tell us that our Earth is not happy with our decisions? We have seen what plastic can do to our ocean life. We have seen the fires that have destroyed countless peoples homes. We have seen other countries ban plastic because they know what the source of the problem is. So why are we still using single-use plastic products?

The need to reduce single use plastic

It is time we open our eyes and realize that plastic is simply bad for our environment. Single-use plastic is not worth destroying our Earth over. Smarter choices need to start being made when it comes to buying single-use plastic products. Plastic waste stays on this planet for much longer than any of us may think. Even when we recycle, the plastic waste remains on our Earth. As a result of this, we need to stop buying single-use plastic products that we all know we don’t need, “In other words, because plastic is inexpensive, lightweight and durable, virtually every industry – be it retailing, manufacturing or logistics…And because it is so durable, it does not ‘go away’” (Wassener). We are taught to think that because we recycle, everything is good in the world. When in reality that piece of plastic we recycled is going to get broken up into even tinier pieces only to then pollute the air or ocean later on. “The sheer volume of plastic trash now littering Earth has become impossible to ignore. It’s time for environmentalists, policymakers and elected officials to start planning a broader response: phasing out all single-use plastic, not just the most pernicious” (The Times Editorial Board), we have plastic on this earth from decades ago, and the problem is only going to worsen with each day we continue to produce and purchase single-use plastic. Plastic waste is not going to disappear or go away, “There is no ‘away’” (Leonard). Although recycling will help our growing problem, “Recycling alone will never stem the flow of plastics into our oceans; we have to get to the source of the pollution and slow down the production of all this plastic waste” (Leonard).

Everything comes back to the production of plastic. It needs to be controlled, but the only way to control it is for consumers to stop buying it. Plastic companies will only continue to produce what we purchase. Until we stop buying these pointless cups, containers, and straws, the problem will remain the same. It all starts with taking that first step and choosing not to buy single-use plastic products, and I encourage you to take that step. Some may say that although the plastic waste we produce is terrible for our environment, some good can come from it. For example, single-use plastic is a key component in the medical field. Plastic products have not only bettered medicine but they also play a huge role in keeping us safe and healthy: Plastics have reduced the weight of eyeglass frames and lenses. They are key components of modern prosthetic devices offering greater flexibility, comfort, and mobility. Plastics allow artificial hip and knees to provide smooth working, trouble-free joints. Plastic packaging, with its exceptional barrier properties, lightweight, low cost, durability, and transparency, is ideal for medical applications.

Today’s most innovative medical procedures are dependent on plastics. Plastic has changed medicine for the better. Although some products like syringes and blood bags are only used a single time, they prevent the spread of diseases and infections. There is no substitute for medical plastic. It is the one type of single-use plastic that benefits us more than it hurts us. Our plastic coffee cups and straws, on the other hand, don’t serve this same purpose. If the only plastic waste we could create was medical related, our world would be in a much better place. Although single-use plastic serves an important purpose in medical use, most of which we throw away is not medically related in the slightest. Single-use plastic is not something we NEED and unless you are throwing away a plastic syringe or blood bag, you should be making smarter decisions on the products you buy. The trash we throw away has real-life consequences. Every time we take out the trash or throw something away in the garbage, it feels as if the trash isn’t our problem anymore. We threw it away, and now it is gone. In reality, though, that trash is in no way “gone.” The paper, plastic, food, and waste we dispose of every day ends up on the streets, is sent away, or is washed up into our oceans. Anywhere you go you will see trash on the ground, just think about how our poor marine life must feel, “Meanwhile, ocean plastic is estimated to kill millions of marine animals every year. Nearly 700 species including endangered ones are known to have been affected by it” (Parker). Have we really been so selfish that we are willing to put all of our ocean life in serious danger? If we continue at the rate we are going, so many species are bound to die out. We aren’t just destroying our world with our trash, we are also destroying theirs. Many people may feel bad for our ocean life but are not ready to give up the convenience of plastic, “Environmentalists argue that the inability of plastic bags to degrade easily, the low recycle rate, and the frequency with which these items are disposed of improperly create an ongoing threat to local wildlife and waterways” (Plastic Waste). Animals such as sea birds, turtles, and seals are dying out because they are ingesting the plastic throw out.

“Endangered wildlife like Hawaiian monk seals and pacific loggerhead sea turtles are among nearly 700 species that eat and get caught in plastic litter” (Ocean Plastics Pollution). Let me put it this way, when humans eat bits of plastic from eating microwave and canned food, drinking from water bottles, or eating seafood they could face problems such as “premature births, asthma, cancer, miscarriage, male infertility…”. The list of side effects goes on and on. Our bodies clearly aren’t supposed to digest plastic, so why are we allowing our ocean life to suffer like this? It is time we make better choices when it comes to single-use plastic. Let’s think about the issue realistically. Yes, we would love if there was a way to save our oceans from this mess we have created, and of course, we would love if there was a way to rid the world of single-use plastic, but there’s not. We need to stop and think about what we as individuals can do, and what our communities can do. The change starts when we do. Rather than putting it off and waiting until the world ends, let’s stop using single-use plastic whenever we can. Start by bringing your own reusable bag to the grocery store, go out and buy a reusable water bottle, start being smart about what you recycle and what you throw away. I am not saying this is going to save the world, but if everyone began to make simple changes in their everyday lives, we would definitely see a difference. “Ocean plastic is not as complicated as climate change…” (Parker), we know exactly what the problem is here, and the solution is definitely not a secret. All we need to do is own up to the poor decisions we have been making lately, and start making better ones. I think we all understand that this is not going to be an easy change. If we want to fix our planet, if we want to eliminate single-use plastic, the change is going to be difficult. But as of right now, we could be described as a “looming catastrophe.”

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Conclusion

We are a disaster waiting to happen, and it is only a matter of time before our planet gives up on us. We are responsible for the trash on this earth, and it is our job to dispose of it the correct way. There is no reason that you need to use a plastic bag to carry a few items out to your car every time you go to the store. There is no reason you need to drink out of a plastic water bottle when you are very capable of filling a reusable cup. There is no reason as to why we are living our lives the way we are right now. Change needs to be made, and it all starts with our choices. So let’s start with saying goodbye to single-use plastic.

Works Cited

  1. Hershkowitz, A. (2018). Single-Use Plastics: A Roadmap for Sustainability. Environmental Health Perspectives, 126(2), 1-5. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP2589
  2. Sridhar, M. K. C., Khan, A. M., & Javid, M. (2020). Single-use plastic: Economic, environmental, and social perspectives. Journal of Cleaner Production, 253, 120048. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2019.120048
  3. Bovee, J. (2021). The Plastic Problem: Single-Use Plastic Consumption and Its Environmental Impacts. Environmental Law Review Syndicate, 51(1), 38-56. https://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/envlr51&div=6&id=&page=
  4. United Nations Environment Programme. (2018). Single-Use Plastics: A Roadmap for Sustainability. United Nations Environment Programme. https://wedocs.unep.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.11822/25496/singleUsePlastic_sustainability.pdf
  5. Torres, L. (2020). Single-Use Plastics: A Threat to Ocean Life. The Oceanography Society. https://tos.org/oceanography/assets/docs/33-2_torres.pdf
  6. Plastic Oceans International. (n.d.). The Problem of Single-Use Plastics. https://plasticoceans.org/the-facts/
  7. Geyer, R., Jambeck, J. R., & Law, K. L. (2017). Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made. Science Advances, 3(7), e1700782. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1700782
  8. World Wildlife Fund. (n.d.). The Problem with Plastics. https://www.worldwildlife.org/stories/the-problem-with-plastics
  9. Greenpeace. (2018). Single-Use Plastics: A Roadmap for Sustainability. Greenpeace. https://storage.googleapis.com/planet4-international-stateless/2018/06/109faf92-d6b6-4e96-ae9f-24e3839ef1d6-full-report.pdf
  10. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation. (2016). The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation. https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/assets/downloads/EllenMacArthurFoundation_TheNewPlasticsEconomy_Pages.pdf
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The Reasons Why Single-use Plastic Should Be Eliminated. (2023, March 30). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/why-single-use-plastic-should-be-eliminated/
“The Reasons Why Single-use Plastic Should Be Eliminated.” GradesFixer, 30 Mar. 2023, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/why-single-use-plastic-should-be-eliminated/
The Reasons Why Single-use Plastic Should Be Eliminated. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/why-single-use-plastic-should-be-eliminated/> [Accessed 23 Jun. 2024].
The Reasons Why Single-use Plastic Should Be Eliminated [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2023 Mar 30 [cited 2024 Jun 23]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/why-single-use-plastic-should-be-eliminated/
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