Recently, we’ve been seeing trends to create a more eco-friendly world. Cutting carbon emissions and banning toxic substances like plastic are just some of the ideas brought up to help. This effort to protect the environment has reached the city of Fremont, where people like Sunjay Muralitharan from Washington High School are advocating for the ban of sales of single use plastic bottles in Fremont. Sunjay has been promoting his activism through social media and by doing independent research into people’s attitudes towards plastic bottles. You can find out more at this link.
How harmful are plastic bottles to the environment and to daily life? What are the benefits of single use plastic bottles? And how did this discussion begin? A big flaw with plastic bottles is that they are not biodegradable; instead, they quickly break down into harmful microplastics. These microplastics then commonly pollute waterways and are digested by animals and humans alike. After entering our bodies, they sit in our gut and release harmful microplastics into our systems, which may cause serious health issues as time passes on. Microplastics are also found in plastic bottles themselves. It is estimated that plastic water bottle drinkers ingest about 86,000 more microplastics per year than non-plastic water bottle drinkers, an extra 236 small plastic particles everyday.
Plastic bottles are also abundant in our oceans. There were around 1.6 million plastic bottles in the ocean in 2017, making it the third most common trash found in oceans (behind cigarette buds and plastic wrappers). These bottles decimate ocean life when animals consume their microparticles. All this begs the question, “Can’t you just recycle plastics?” Well, recycling plastics, sadly, is not the solution, as according to National Geographic, 91% of all plastic isn’t even recycled, and the other 9% must be melted down in order to be repurposed. This process releases harmful smoke into our atmosphere.
With this information taken into account, Sunjay M stated that “single use plastic water bottles should be banned since there are feasible alternatives to them in the city (reusable water bottles). Drinks that are not water do not have a simple alternative and hence should not be banned (or at least not yet). Any policy needs a starting point and I believe that banning plastic water bottles first would be the most effective way to start our crusade against plastic.” Sunjay argues that they are overall harmful to the environment. What about using single-use plastic bottles multiple times, to not waste plastic? Ian Cheng says, “Reusing single-use plastic water bottles is not a good idea. This is mainly because when you drink from these bottles you consume harmful microplastics. These microplastics are known to cause reproductive harm, obesity, organ problems.” At the moment Fremont is not considering a ban against single use plastic bottles. The current situation is still a stalemate. Some progress has been made, but there is a lot of work ahead to make the ban real. If you would like to take a survey of your attitude towards plastic bottles, you can take this survey created by Sunjay and Ian.
Aansh Sharma is a junior at Washington High School. He grew up in Munich, Germany and Mumbai, India and then Fremont, California. This is his first year at the Hatchet. His interests are running the Gaming Club and reporting on the local news. He also likes to play video games. He would like to get a job in Computer Science to allow him to support himself. While Computer Science seems boring, he will try to have fun with it despite that, and also distract himself with gaming sometimes.