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Plastic over-Usage

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  • Pages: 7
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  • Category: Recycling

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Look around at the local surroundings. How many objects are made of or just contain a bit of plastic? There is a high amount of plastic being used for all kinds of objects for daily use. Plastic is used all the time and most people never really think twice about it. Plastic is becoming too common in the world today and is harming our environment (Manrich. 2009). People do not realize the effects plastic over-usage has on the world but if each person were to really take time to think about this over-usage maybe this use could be greatly reduced with just a few simple measures.

Human dependence on plastic and paper products is high and some measures are needed to take a step back and evaluate which plastic products are necessities and which are not in order to help save the environment. Ways to reduce the amount of plastic in society is needed to reduce the amount of harm to the environment because the plastics that are being used are taking over landfills, getting into the water supply, and causing a lot of harm to the ecosystem (Ginis. 2008). Turning away from plastic completely may not be possible, but usage can be reduced and the amount used in daily lives can be altered.

On a global scale human dependence on plastic is entirely too high which means that on average the amount of plastic each person uses and wastes is too high as well. Over one hundred million tons of plastic is produced annually and out of all that plastic over fourteen million tons end up in the oceans harming and killing marine life (Raja 2011). It is hard to imagine one hundred million tons of plastic, but cars, cell phones, and computers that are purchased are made of a large amount of plastic.

It’s not likely that those large plastic objects will end up floating in the ocean; however, there are also numerous small objects that are overlooked, such as water bottles and food wrappings made of nothing but plastic. A large percent of those smaller items made of plastics end up in the oceans which harm the animals living in those waters. Since plastic is not biodegradable, all of those plastics wasted are always going to be around and causing harm in one way or another. Why do humans continue to let that happen? Is it just because people really don’t care or maybe are just too busy with life to really think about the issue?

Each person can begin to decrease the amount of plastic being wasted. There are many small things such as using paper or recycled grocery bags instead of plastic and purchasing reusable water bottles. These small efforts to reduce the amount of plastic usage could eventually make a big difference. Individuals and companies are looking forward to the future and are developing ways plastic waste can be used for fuels and recycling in order to reduce the waste left behind (Raja. 2011). It is great they are thinking of ways to help but that only helps solve the problem in the future, every person can make a commitment right now to decrease the amount of plastic left in landfills.

Imagine four billion plastic grocery bags; it’s nearly impossible to imagine that many bags. That is the number of plastic bags being used annually, just in Australia (Ginis. 2005). Plastic grocery bags only account for a small percentage of the total amount of plastic being used and wasted. Plastic is something that we take advantage of and overuse on a daily basis instead of realizing it is harmful and needs to be treated that way. Some locations in the United States, North Carolina and District of Columbia, have enforced bans and/or restrictions of the amount of plastic a consumer may use.

One of those restrictions included charging up to fifteen cents for every plastic bag used (State Legislatures. 2011). Fifteen cents may not see like a lot of money but it adds up. With those restrictions in place, plastic bag usage is causing less harm to the environment and consumers pay for plastic bag usage. Charging people to use plastic bags may seem like an outrageous idea but it actually helps with the reduction. Consumers begin to realize the value of plastic so they reduce the amount the use because they do not want to pay for more than they have to. The concept of the three R’s: reduce, reuse, and recycle is what each of these states based their plan on to help protect the environment.

One of the largest problems with plastic usage is the way it is disposed of. Out of the one hundred million tons of plastic that is produced annually fourteen million tons of that end up in the oceans (Raja. 2011). People usually overlook the harm that they are causing by just tossing their plastic away. People should be more willing to put in the effort to recycle. Recycling takes just about as much time as throwing it away so why aren’t people doing it? Most people just forget about the option of recycling, but choosing recycling over throwing plastic in the trash would greatly reduce the amount of harm it is causing to the ecosystem.

There are three types of recycling to choose from: mechanical, chemical, and energy, so people should be more willing to participate in one of those forms to better the environment (Manrich. 2009). Mechanical is the cheapest and most well-known of the three options. Mechanical recycling involves taking plastic and melting and molding it into new objects. Chemical recycling is more science based and also more expensive.

“Chemical recycling consists in using depolymerization (breaking down molecules) and decomposition reactions to convert polymers into low molecular-weight products. According to the type of reaction, a variety of chemical products are generated that can be used as raw materials in several sectors. Chemical recycling is generally divided into two types: thermolysis (breaking down using heat) and solvolysis (solvent and solute combine) (Manrich. 2009).”Energy is simply the process of burning plastics. One other option people are beginning to look into for reducing the waste associated with plastic usage through disposal is the conversion of waste plastic into fuels.

With the scientific advances available today, it is possible to take some of the wasted plastics and convert them into polymers to be used in fuels (Raja. 2011). This alternative would not only be beneficial to the environment and ecosystem but would also help strengthen the economy because it is a cheaper alternative to the fuels that we purchase today. It may take a while but if scientists push for this conversion it will eventually become an option to purchase fuel that is made partly or entirely of wasted plastics. This alternative fuel source is a winning option.

People are plain out just wasteful with plastic and do not really think about the harm it causes to the world around them. Plastic is the foundation for nearly all materialistic items today, which really is a problem. What will happen to those items once we toss them in the trash? Who knows, they will probably end up in a landfill somewhere or maybe floating in the ocean next time you go to the beach.

People need to be more conscientious with the way they deal with plastic items they use. Instead of throwing all of those plastic grocery bags in the trash, once can recycle them and use them on tour next grocery trip or place them in a recycling bin so they can be molded into something else. As for the large items made of plastic, people should not continue to overuse and waste plastic. Enough plastic has already been placed in the ecosystem and it is surely causing enough harm without us continuing to add to that amount.

Our dependency on plastics needs to be greatly reduced in some ways in order to protect and preserve our planet for the future generations. In the past one hundred and fifty years, the planet has already been harmed since the discovery of plastic (Kahn. 2007). In the future it is important to get the plastic usage problem under control so the generations to come won’t have to deal with the environmental issues. Just because plastic is easily accessible and easy to dispose of doesn’t mean it has to be used all of the time. Choose paper instead of plastic, drink from a metal water bottle, and recycle the amount of plastic you do have to use. Doing simple things will make a difference and will help the over use of plastics in the world.


Ginis, L. (2008). Bagging plastic. Australian Geographic, (91), 120.

Kahn, J. (2009). Plastic. fantastic?. Mother Jones, 34(3), 57.

Manrich, S., & Santos, A. F. (2009). Plastic Recycling. Nova Science Publishers.

Raja, A., & Murali, A. (2011). Conversion of plastic wastes into fuels. Journal Of Materials Science &Engineering B, 1(B), 86-89.

Bagging plastic. (2011). State Legislatures, 37(5), 10.

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