Our four fathers wrote the Constitution and Bill of Rights to set a baseline of rights that each American should have. At the time these documents were written there was little to no pollution and the national population was of no issue. In today’s society we have pollution and population issues, which should require us as a nation to rethink the application of a few of these rights. The Bill of Rights and the Constitution were never meant to be intransigent documents. These documents were meant to be changed and modified to serve the nation as a whole; while providing a moral compass for our (local, state, and federal) governments to produce laws to protect the people as a whole. Therefore, we as a nation have an opportunity to consider instituting rules; which help to preserve the health of our national population. Many argue that they are being told what to do with their homes, trash, and purchases. I believe they are correct that there appear to be too many rules in a country that is supposed to be free. However, ever since the beginning of the industrial age we as a nation have been in direct contact with high levels of pollution; which they never encountered when the documents were originally written. Big business finds more cost effective ways of doing business and this has lead to toxic levels of pollutants being expelled from different types of factories. To exacerbate the situation these same companies have employed lobbyists to protect their organizations from the institution of expensive pollution reduction and retooling laws. The EPA has instituted laws to force these companies to cut back pollution levels, but these levels still have an effect as this examiner feels that the current rules do not go far enough.
Why does this matter to Seattle?
There is a Council Bill Number: 117345 under review, “AN ORDINANCE relating to the City of Seattle’s solid waste system, regulating the distribution of single-use plastic and biodegradable carryout bags and requiring retail establishments to collect a pass-through charge from customers requesting recyclable paper carryout bags, and amending Seattle Municipal Code Chapter 21.36.”(Seattle.gov, 2011) There is a cost, however, because consumers will have to pay a “Pass-through charge,” for recycled bags and this means, “a charge to be collected by retailers from their customers when providing recyclable paper bags.” (Seattle.gov, 2011) However, according to FISCAL NOTE FOR NON-CAPITAL PROJECTS the 5 cents per bag will not provide any additional City revenues from this ordinance. (Seattle.gov, 2011) There are several communities looking to pass similar rules, which surround the Seattle, Washington area and some of Washington’s residents are upset and see it as unconstitutional.
However, if we look at this through utilitarian eyes; we as a nation need to grow and cutback on using products that cause high levels of pollutants, cancer, and lung problems. The health industry has made a great deal of money curing cancer or providing pharmaceuticals to cure most ailments of which; in this examiners opinion could have been avoided if people were protected more and affected less by what they could not see. Pollution is a modern day plague attacking our children’s future. Admitting, what makes this country great is the idea of freedom, but at what cost; as I believe we have the right to be informed and educated as to what we are being exposed too. More and more Americans are being enslaved by medical costs including costly kidney and liver transplants. Many children are growing up with asthma or some other kind of breathing disorder as, “asthma and allergies have also increased in the developed world during the last 30 years, prompting some experts to wonder if environmental changes are responsible, since genetic shifts might not be seen as quickly.”(Hitti, Web MD, 2004). The argument is, whether there is a connection between pollution and decease clusters. After doing research, this examiner observes that there are several studies supporting both sides. So who’s right?
Here are the facts:
31 million tons of plastic waste were generated in 2010, representing 12.4 percent of total MSW. In 2010, the United States generated almost 14 million tons of plastics as containers and packaging, almost 11 million tons as durable goods, such as appliances, and almost 7 million tons as nondurable goods, for example plates and cups. Only 8 percent of the total plastic waste generated in 2010 was recovered for recycling. In 2010, the category of plastics which includes bags, sacks, and wraps was recycled at almost 12 percent. Plastics also are found in automobiles, but recycling of these materials is counted separately from the MSW recycling rate. (EPA, 2010)
Currently, various cities and communities in the state of Washington are looking to ban the use of plastic bags in grocery stores including Seattle. This examiner believes this step has limited value if it is not accompanied with other plastic use and packaging regulations. As a mom, personally I think it’s a good idea if they require the use of recycled paper bags. Unfortunately, I use plastic bags to protect my car from chicken, pork, or beef juice leaks associated with typical weekly grocery purchases. Maybe instead of saying absolutely no plastic bag use, they could say, recycled bags will be used for bagging groceries with the option to use a recycled plastic bag only on items that leak i.e. chicken, fish, pork, and beef purchases. This examiner feels that limiting use would be a compromise most citizens could understand. The institution of a paper bag law is an idea, which should be accompanied with other common sense packaging laws and specifics. The legislative branch has an opportunity to institute common sense laws without financially strapping consumer wallets. This examiner is not an environmentalist, however, understands that we all have a responsibility to protect everyone as much as we can from pollution. Every person and action, no matter how small, does make a difference. We just have to be open minded enough to understand that we all need to change our habits or our nation’s future is at risk.
In conclusion, the EPA states, “for people interested in this question,” the answer, “continues to be simple:
- Reduce the number of bags you use and discard after one use;
- Re-use bags to reduce the need for new bags;
- Recycle bags when they can no longer be used.
This advice holds true whether consumers choose to use paper, plastic or cotton/ canvas bags.” (EPA, 2010) Please check out the following links if you require more information and wish to research this topic yourself because it’s important to be informed before making any decision that will affect a community.
Please review to get more data I found them sad to watch and thought I would share. Hit the back button to come back to the article.
- It’s Our Choice, Choose NOT to use Plastic Bags
- Seattle Green Bag Campaign
- 7 Reasons to Say No to Plastic Bags and Move to Paper Bags
- Plastic Bag Pollution
- PLASTIC TRASH ISLAND DISASTER
EPA (n.d). Shopping Bags Question. Retrieved (online) December 13, 2011 – from: http://www.epa.gov/region1/communities/shopbags.html
EPA (2010). Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) in the United States: Facts and Figures. Retrieved (online) December 13, 2011 – from: http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/municipal/msw99.htm
EPA (2010). Graphics and Images. Retrieved (online) December 13, 2011- from: http://www.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/municipal/index.htm
EPA (2010). Wastes – Resource Conservation – Common Wastes & Retrieved (online) December 13, 2011 – from: http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/plastics.htm
Hitti, Miranda- Web MD (Oct. 6, 2004). Plastic Chemicals Linked to Asthma, Allergies. Retrieved (online) December 13, 2011 from: http://www.webmd.com/asthma/news/20041006/plastic-chemicals-linked-to-asthma-allergies
Plastics Industry.org. (n.d). TOP 10 MYTHS ABOUT PLASTIC GROCERY BAGS. Retrieved (online) December 13, 2011 – from: http://www.plasticsindustry.org/files/about/fbf/myths%2Bfacts_grocerybags.pdf
Pugetsound.org (2011). Seattle joins regional and global movement to ban single-use plastic bags. Retrieved (online) December 13, 2011 from: http://pugetsound.org/pressroom/press-releases/seattle-joins-regional-and-global-movement-to-ban-single-use-plastic-bags
Seattle.gov (2011). Council Bill Number: 117345. Retrieved (online) December 13, 2011 from: http://clerk.seattle.gov/~scripts/nph-brs.exe?s1=117345&Sect4=AND&l=MAX&Sect1=IMAGE&Sect2=THESON&Sect3=PLURON&Sect5=LEGI2&Sect6=HITOFF&d=LEGA&p=1&u=http://clerk.seattle.gov/~public/legisearch.htm&r=1&f=G