51 trillion microscopic pieces, that’s the amount of pieces of plastic that are currently in the ocean of our world. Despite that there is even more plastic in our streets, that are clogging up waste management systems, releasing toxins into the air. Most of this plastic was only used for one purpose, and a lot of plastic comes from the American grocery stores that hand out plastic bags like warm hot dogs at a football game. On average every single American citizen uses one plastic bag a day. Most people do not realize the harm they are contributing to our world. However, the big retail stores do not care and produce them en masse. There could be a couple ways to reduce them, by charging money for every single bag or handout paper bags or cloth bags, which then also have to be paid for.

Although there is a majority of countries in the world that already have passed some form of traditional plastic bag ban. For example, Germany where I am from has already done that, you can only buy paper bags. As of today I see no solution coming in the US, because people do not like to hear these facts. Although there are some states that have been able to ban single use bags, most states have not even discussed this. The government has to do something otherwise there will never be a change. Most people do not like to go out of their comfort zone and contribute something to the world we live in. The plastic bag tax can also be helpful, so that consumers think twice about the type of products they are purchasing for their packaging. These taxes encourage consumers to look out for packaging products that are environmentally friendly or recycled. Reusable alternatives is in my opinion one of the biggest alternatives because then the consumer does something good and also can use it a second time.

Despite an abundance of good options, the issue still remains that we use way too much plastic and that beautiful places are ruined because of plastic laying all over beautiful beaches. It is important that we use and rely on as little plastic as we can and then the plastic should be well made. Even more importantly, it must be made eco-friendly. Reinventing our production systems is the next step for us younger generations. Studying the things that went wrong in the past to ensure that we still have a future.

Our past overconsumption and lack of care with plastics created serious problems that are threatening our existence. We must take this threat and rethink the way we live and save on plastic as much as we can. Reducing plastic waste in our oceans is important for our animals in the ocean as well, to guarantee them a good and deserved life. We must all work in tandem to regulate plastics and to make sure to reuse our packaging as much as we can. All in all, this is an environmental crisis the world faces together.

Essay by: Noah Daniel Meeh
Flagler College

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