4 January 2013
Plastics in Modern Society: Excess without Excuse
All around us is plastic, and it plays a major part in our society. Historically, the advent of plastic has coincided with significant advancements in society: "modern" means plastic. For example, it’s an essential component in computers, cars, planes, technology and medicine; they all rely heavily on plastic usage. Plastic is really beneficial to our society, but it is not beneficial to our eco-system that is slowly dying due to plastics pollution in the oceans and our lands. Plastic is not just harmful to our ecosystem it also is harmful to our health in manufacturing. Even though plastic is beneficial to our daily lives, such as in the convenience of consumer packaging, particularly in food and beverages. Society needs to stop allowing commercial plastics in unnecessary packaging, such as plastic containers, bags, and other forms. Industrialized societies need to find alternatives which are less harmful to us and our planet and less energy consuming in its manufacturing. FOSSIL FUEL
Our planet has a limited amount of fossil fuel. Plastic is essentially made up of oil; plastic is an oil based product, and in 2006 about 331 million barrels of oil were used in order to produce plastic. The amount of estimated oil in our planets reserves, however, is not even close to the real amount of oil that is necessary to continue this consumption at the present rate. The United States alone consumes a total of 6.87 billion barrels (18.83 million barrels per day) in 2011, at that rate scientist’s estimate that we have only up to thirty to forty more years of oil in our planets reserves. However, how much oil is left in our planets reserves is not a relevant concern. The real problem is consumption of fossil fuel itself. If for example we would discover ten million years worth of oil reserves, as long as industries continue to consume it and government allow for its excessive consumption, our eco system will continue to decline and with it humanity. FOSSIL FUELS AND PLASTICS
As mentioned earlier, plastic is essentially an oil-based product. Because the amount of oil has been plentiful, the production of plastic has likewise increased. Plastic in consumer packaging has received most of this increase. The increase in plastic packaging of consumer items has reached a point today that U.S communities have begun to ban their use because their presence is obviously environmentally destructive. Recently grocery stores chains in certain parts of the country could no longer offer plastic bags, instead consumers are offered to purchase recycled paper bags. These types of ordinates are starting to be more common in the U.S. The first state to offer a ban on plastic bags in grocery stores was California; since then cities like Seattle have joined the “Plastic Bag Ban”. PLASTICS ENVIORNMENTAL IMPACT
When we look around us, on the streets, in the fields, and on the oceans, there is a substantial amount of plastic garbage. Many animals die due to accidental plastic consumption or they get trapped in packaging. Although that is an aesthetic displeasure, the real problem is its impact on wildlife. One doesn't "litter" by throwing a banana peel out the car window, since it bio-degrades or is consumed by animals; one pollutes by throwing out a plastic bottle in which an animal gets trapped. Due to this many animals have died because of our love for plastic. However, the problem is not their death, but how their death affects our eco-system. In the Pacific Ocean, there is a catastrophe called the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” and it is calculated to be twice the size of Texas. This patch circulates around the South Pacific and grows bigger daily due to the short-sited and inappropriate disposal of waste. A portion of that waste bio-degrades, but plastic does not. It slowly collects due to currents and winds. Furthermore, the...
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