Should We Ban Consumable Plastics to Save Lakes and Oceans Wildlife?
The numerous adverse effects of pollution both on land and in the sea have obtained attention on local, state, and international levels. The fact that plastic does not completely break down with time only aggravates the scope of damage plastic waste causes to the planet. Indeed, the waters of the Pacific Ocean, rivers, and lakes of the USA in general and in the Houston area, in particular, are vastly polluted by plastic garbage, which threatens wildlife. Environmental activists, as well as many state governments and local administrations, have already enacted laws aimed at banning single-use plastic. They aim to minimize plastic waste by eliminating its production and use. The opponents of the ban claim that it is not economically feasible or efficient to outlaw consumable plastic due to the side-effects of the banning procedures. Indeed, the elimination of the production of such a highly popular and widely applied material would cause unemployment, business losses, and will lead to an increase in consumers’ expenditures on alternative materials.
Given the opposing views, the problem that this argumentative essay seeks to solve is the necessity to ban consumable plastics to save lakes and ocean wildlife. Taking into account the value and relevance of each side’s rationale, the solution must incorporate the multifaceted nature of the debate. The scope of arguments is concentrated on the USA and includes a more specific perspective on the Houston area. Due to the complexity of the problem, alternative and compromising solutions are intended to be found.
Discussing the Other Side: Consumable Plastics Should not be Banned
Despite the global trend in environmental protection and the acute attention paid to the inevitable harm caused by plastic pollution to the oceans, rivers, and lakes, there is space for arguing against plastic banning. The supporters of this point of view suggest that the production and use of consumable plastic in the form of bags, straws, cups, plates, and other items should be allowed. The opponents of the plastic ban provide solid reasoning for their position by arguing that the laws prohibiting consumable plastic use have adverse effects on businesses. Indeed, according to Logomasini (2019), the banning of plastic bags, for example, will have “serious adverse impacts on small businesses and their employees, as well as on consumers and the environment” (para. 1). Thus, numerous businesses across the country will bear inconveniences and monetary losses imposed by the banning law.
Indeed, plastic-producing and plastic-processing businesses will be closed due to the banning procedure. As Logomasini (2019), states, “there are 30 companies in New York State that manufacture plastic bags with 1,500 employees that will suffer if the ban takes effect” (para. 2). Similarly, in all the states of the USA, plastic manufacturers are actively involved in the industry and might be left without jobs or market share once their main resource is outlawed. Again, not only will the businesses be impacted, but also the people who are employed at the plants and factories will be adversely affected. Thus, it is unreasonable and economically inefficient to eliminate plastics from everyday use.
Using an example of plastic bags as one of the most frequently used plastic items that pollute the environment, the supporters of this point of view elaborate on the issue. They suggest that the replacement of this item by an alternative will lead to excessive expenses on consumers’ behalf. The popularity of the material is validated by the fact that plastic is the cheapest material that suffices the qualities of convenience, practicality, and low cost, “strength and durability” (Knight, 2012, p. 5). Given the multiple merits related to the qualities of plastic materials in connection with the low cost, any other alternative material used for plastic bags or other single-use products will be more expensive (Logomasini, 2019). People will have to spend more money on the everyday purchases of paper or cotton bags, despite their multiple uses.
Also, the opponents appeal to the economic issues related to the production of alternative materials to replace plastics. The industries of paper and other environment-friendly materials are not ready to meet the demand after the complete ban of plastics, which can potentially cause a breakdown in the consumer-oriented businesses. In addition, environmental issues are addressed when claiming in favor of single-use plastic items production. According to King 5 (2018), the manufacturing of alternative materials or multiple-use plastic involves a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions that will cause damage to the environment. Thus, it is unreasonable to ban single-use plastic on a large scale.
Discussing Your Side: Consumable Plastics Should be Banned to Minimize Environmental Harm
Single-use plastics should be eliminated from manufacturing and everyday use to eliminate the multiple harms they cause to the ecosystems in general and water wildlife in particular. One of the main concerns related to the plastic pollution issue is the amount of plastic produced and disposed of yearly (Ritchie & Roser, 2018). The fact that bags, straws, cups, and other items made of plastic remain unchanged over time means that all the plastic ever produced is present on the planet either in the form of a used product or waste. The accumulation of plastic garbage in the Pacific Ocean is one of the most disturbing environmental issues. The so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a place on the surface of the Pacific Ocean waters covered with plastic garbage (Knight, 2012). This manifestation of water pollution demonstrates the scope of damage plastic causes to marine wildlife, as well as rivers and lakes.
The scope of adverse effects of plastic garbage on the wildlife in lakes and oceans is difficult to overestimate. Multiple studies have been conducted to investigate the causes, effects, and statistics of plastic pollution. As the statistical data demonstrates, on average, approximately 270 million tons of plastic is manufactured every year in the world, 3 percent of which (approximately 8 million tons) enters the waters of the oceans (Ritchie & Roser, 2018, para. 3-7). Moreover, developed countries produce more plastic waste than other countries in the world. The deficiency of waste management on a state level is the main reason for environmental pollution with plastic. Irrelevant recycling and disposal techniques, as well as the lack of social responsibility of consumers, aggravate the problem. Indeed, as Njuguna (2018) states, the litter in the Pacific Ocean waters is characterized by “exceptionally high concentrations of suspended plastics, such as plastic bags, bottles, containers, and other debris, that have been trapped by currents” (p. 92). However, the quantity of plastic pollutants is not the only concern.
The elimination of plastic from everyday use will contribute to the development of sustainable industries capable of protecting the environment. As the precedents of plastic banning in other countries show, the quality of ecology significantly improves once strict measures aimed at prohibiting plastic use are implemented (Njuguna, 2018). Indeed, the quality of ecology in Kenya has advanced since imprisonment was enacted as the punishment for the use of plastic bags. As a consequence of prohibiting plastic, alternative material-producing businesses might be encouraged to develop. To minimize business losses imposed by the decrease of the demand for plastic products, paper, glass, metal, and even innovative recyclable materials might be introduced. These materials might be used to manufacture consumable items (such as bags, straws, cups, and others) for repetitive use and recycling.
Since the main concerns related to plastic waste are those of saving oceans and lakes wildlife, as well as preserving economic considerations related to the plastic industry, it is possible to arrive at a commonly beneficial solution. Given the statistically and scientifically supported evidence that proves the adverse effects of consumable plastics on marine and freshwater wildlife, the minimization of its use and waste is vital. It is negotiable how plastic pollution might be managed by means other than complete banning. Indeed, the problem with excessive plastic waste depends on the relatively low level of recycling of this material. Since people use most of the polluting items only once, they accumulate in striking amounts and, as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch demonstrates, endanger the existence of multiple species in the oceans, rivers, seas, lakes, and other ecosystems (Knight, 2012). Therefore, it is necessary to advance and initiate not only the production of alternative materials but also the industries for plastic recycling. This will ensure the decrease in waste amount and promote an environment-friendly mindset in the population of consumers.
Arguing for Your Resolution
The proposed resolution that would incorporate the reasoning from both sides addresses several steps within an action plan. It is essential to advance plastic recycling strategies and organizations that would promote recycling culture among the population of consumers and implement effective recycling projects. It will contribute to the elimination of plastic pollution and create a more environment-friendly mindset in society. Moreover, recycling businesses, as well as alternative material industries, will create new workplaces to close the gap of unemployment induced by the shortage of single-use plastic consumption. The industries actively involved in plastic manufacturing might re-direct their operations at either alternative resources or recyclable plastic (multiple-use plastic). This strategy will sustain businesses and enable saving wildlife from extinction under the influence of polluting human existence.
Addressing Objections to Your Resolution
In the opinion of the opponents of the plastic ban, the problems of environmental pollution are inevitable, given the industrialization and consumerism of the contemporary world. When addressing the issues of plastic pollution and the related concerns, the pollution alternatives are discussed. As the speaker describing the debate around plastic ban states, when it comes to the discussion of the elimination of plastic and its replacement by alternatives, one must “pick one’s poison” (King 5, 2018, 00:00:42-00:00:44). This phrase implies that the production of alternative materials will cause other types of pollution, such as greenhouse gas emissions, chemicals, water pollution, and other adverse effects that will ultimately lead to environmental damage. Therefore, the opponents of the plastic ban appeal to the choice between the several evils where one should determine whether garbage is more dangerous than chemical pollution (King 5, 2018). In other words, any activity aimed at satisfying the needs of contemporary consumers in an efficient manner, and preserving environmental protection will not be completely harmless.
In support of this point of view, the evidence concerning the quality of water in the Houston area might be valuable. Despite the omnipresent assumption that plastic garbage that pollutes the waters is the main environmental concern, other aspects of pollution should be brought into the discussion. The report conducted by Zabcik and Metzger (2018), vividly shows that in Houston, “all 44 sample sites had at least one day of water that was unsafe for contact recreation in 2017” (p. 7). The waters of lakes and rivers in the area are unsafe for human use and are dangerous for wildlife. In particular, Lake Houston “which is popular for boating and fishing, six out of nine testing sites exceeded safe levels of bacteria for contact recreation at least once in 2017 (Zabcik & Metzger, 2018, p. 7). Importantly, it is not the garbage that has a high potential for harmful effects but the bacteria and chemicals. The authors state that urban, agricultural, and industrial pollutants are the reason for the unsafe quality of waters in the area. Thus, when alternative materials production is increased, similar industry-related water and air pollution will be expected, which will not compensate for the improvements provided by the plastic ban.
Despite the reasonable ground for these objections, the harm caused by plastic waste remains evident. Moreover, since the items made out of plastic vary in size and quality, they have varying effects on water wildlife. Plastic sizes vary from microns to meters and have different characteristics, such as shape, chemical, and physical composition. This means that “there is a wide variety of ways organisms can interact with, become entangled in or ingest plastic particles” (Windsor et al., 2018, p. 1208). Indeed, as found by Bucci and Rochman (2018), “in a Texas river basin, for example, 45 percent of captured sunfish had reportedly consumed microplastics” (para. 13). After the floods in the Lake Houston area, the garbage from the streets enters the lake’s waters, thus polluting the natural habitat of the species living in the lake. Thus, the species whose habitat is lakes, rivers, or oceans, are exposed to the continuous danger of being traumatized by the garbage. According to Windsor et al. (2018), oceans are considered the end-point of plastic waste, which similarly affects our ecosystems, including terrestrial, atmospheric, and freshwater systems. Since water is the end-point, the debris has no exit and remains in the waters for years, accumulating more unbreakable waste with time.
The environmental issues related to the omnipresence of plastic use by modern-day people around the world have been at the center of an ongoing debate for years. The banning of consumable plastics is expected to outlaw the use of this highly polluting material and introduce recyclable environment-friendly materials instead. The opponents of the plastic ban argue that since plastic is considered the cheapest and most durable material capable of serving multiple purposes, it should not be banned for economically justifiable reasons. On the other hand, its multiple adverse effects on wildlife and the environment, in general, endanger the future of the planet. The solution to the problem cannot be obtained in an easy way, which is why decisive measures based on the common ground need to be implemented.
Bucci, K., & Rochman, C. (2018). Beyond our oceans: Microplastics pollute rivers and lakes too. The Conversation. Web.
King 5. (2018). Q&A – Is banning plastic bags really good for the environment? [Video]. Youtube. Web.
Knight, G. D. (2012). Plastic pollution. Heinemann Library.
Logomasini, A. (2019). Another voice: Banning plastic bags will hurt businesses, consumers. The Buffalo News. Web.
Njuguna, J. K. (2018). The efficacy of the ban on the use of plastic bags in Kenya. Journal of CMSD, 4(1), 91-101.
Ritchie, H., & Roser, M. (2018). Plastic pollution. Our World in Data. Web.
Windsor, F. M., Durance, I., Horton, A. A., Thompson, R. C., Tyler, C. R., & Ormerod, S. J. (2019). A catchment‐scale perspective of plastic pollution. Global Change Biology, 25(4), 1207-1221.
Zabcik, B., & Metzger, L. (2018). Swim at your own risk: Bacteria pollution in Texas beaches and waterways threatens public health. Environment Texas. Web.