STAFF ED: Plastic Predicament

The Globe discusses the negative impacts of overuse of plastic


Plastic grocery bags like these are one of the biggest contributors to pollution.

Plastic is a consumer epidemic.

Each year in the U.S., about 100 billion plastic bags are used. That is almost 300 million bags each day.

In 2016, California banned most stores from handing out single-use, thin plastic bags to its customers. Although buyers now had to pay an extra 10 cents for reusable plastic bags if they didn’t have their own, this saved some 13 billion single-use plastic bags each year.

According to an article from the Los Angeles Times, statistics show that after the statewide ban, plastic bags went from being 7.4 percent of litter found on California beaches to only 3.1 percent.

Earlier in 2015, Hawaii became the first U.S. state to fully ban the use of plastic bags at grocery stores, but unlike California, the ban was passed at the county level by four separate counties rather than under state legislation.

In an attempt to join California in their efforts, Andrew Cuomo passed a bill earlier this year that will work to ban the vending of plastic bags in New York retailers by next year.

Missouri should join these U.S. states and work to eliminate the use of plastic bags in grocery stores of our state.

There are about 28 billion lbs of plastic in our oceans, which is often ingested and fatal to marine animals. This occurs in other countries also, a whale died after consuming more than 80 plastic bags and an additional 17 lbs of other plastic materials earlier this year in Thailand.

By banning the use of plastic bags, we can work to eliminate the amount of plastic littered in our environment and in the oceans surrounding the U.S.

Missouri is one of the most river-ripe states in the U.S., creating an easy place to litter plastic and other non-biodegradable products. By banning the use of plastic bags, this could help decrease the trash found in Missouri’s rivers and encourage a cleaner environment.

In 2015, House Bill 722 was passed that prevented local governments from banning or taxing paper and plastic products used in food services. This means that independent communities in Missouri cannot ban plastic products within that specific area.

By passing House Bill 722, Missouri essentially shows we don’t care about the overuse of plastic bags in the state, and although it is not the government’s intention, it is contributing to the growing litter problem nationwide.

Missouri should work to ban the vending of single-use plastic bags in grocery stores statewide because it would help relinquish litter in the state, decrease the use of plastic nationwide, benefit the health of the overall environment within the state and promote the U.S. to escape the plastic-based society that is growing within the nation.

In terms of the Clayton community, Clayton High School can also work to eliminate the use of plastic in our school.

By eliminating plastic water bottles sold in the cafeteria, and promoting students to bring their own reusable water bottles to school could save hundreds of students from buying single-use water bottles each day.

In order to further promote the use of reusable water bottles, CHS could install water bottle fillers in each of the water fountains throughout the school. Finally, to test the impact of limiting plastic bottles used in CHS, each student could receive a water bottle along with their Chromebook at the start of each school year to open each individual to using reusable water bottles at school each day.

Small attempts to limit the use of plastic within our school and the larger Clayton community could help contribute to decreasing plastic use statewide and nationwide.