The Evils of Plastic

Max Mott 5.16.19
Plastic trash is shown piled up to the top of a fence.

Plastic and styrofoam have both been controversial for a while due to the effects they have on the environment and animals. Many people have been switching to paper or metal straws and reusing grocery bags.

But why? What is it about plastic and styrofoam that actually hurts the environment?

Plastic actually breaks down into little pieces that become toxic by absorbing other contaminants from municipal and agricultural runoff. This can become a major problem for not only the people that have to live near the toxic plastic, but also the animals.

A lot of plastic gets dumped into the ocean. It’s one of the main reasons the water everywhere is going downhill.

States all over the nation have been trying to figure out new ways to help the environment and keep it alive for longer without the humans killing it. Maine has become the first state in the US to take a stand and ban styrofoam.

They can’t enforce it instantly but as of January 1st, 2021, no coffee shops, restaurants, grocery stores or basically anywhere that would use styrofoam cups or to-go boxes for food will be banned from using these items.

One of the main reason for the ban is because styrofoam is made out of polystyrene which can’t be recycled. It also will just be better for the environment to stop styrofoam all together because it’s hurting the environment and there are no benefits to using it.

Plastic shown contaminating an area of water.

Plastic isn’t the only thing hurting the environment. There is a Netflix documentary about a chemical called Teflon. A spike of cancer in a small town in West Virginia, Parkersburg, in 2016 had people questioning what’s going on.

There is a factory inside the town that uses chemicals for things like no stick pots and cooking materials. A lot of people started freaking out when they learned all their great new fry pans could potentially give them cancer.

Not only was it dangerous for the people with the pans, but the people working in the factory had it worse. One of the main kids in the show has birth defects because his mom got pregnant while working in the factory.

There are alternatives to plastic though. Lots of places are switching to paper straws and decreasing the amount of plastic they use.

It has sparked some controversy because a lot of people claim the paper straws dissolve in the drink and on your tongue. Of course this isn’t a good reason to stop trying to decrease your use of plastic because you can also invest in a metal straw that will last a much longer and you can reuse it.

You can also try to start bringing your own bag to the grocery store to limit the amount of plastic your throwing away, or even reuse the plastic bags as lunch boxes. Those are just some of the basics that normal people could do on an everyday scale to help the environment.

Overall plastic is not good for the environment and there are not many benefits. It’s good to know people are finally realizing it and taking charge like Maine. Maybe in the future plastic won’t be a thing at all.