Middle Schoolers Urge Us to “Ban the Bag!”
Middle School students conducted their Annual Leadership Summit last week as a culminating activity to their Month of the Young Adolescent studies. This year’s theme, “Ban the Bag,” is designed to take steps toward eliminating the use of the plastic bag in Hoboken. Each year the Sixth Grade class is charged with the job of delivering the keynote speech, which is reprinted below. Although the speech was written as a collaborative effort, it was eloquently delivered by Isabella, who auditioned with the administrative staff for the honor.
Imagine walking down the street knee high in plastic bags. They are in trees, on the sidewalk, and even flying in the air. As impossible as that seems, if we don’t do something about the plastic bag epidemic, you can wave good bye to not only our future, but yours as well. All Saints does not look forward to an era like this. That’s why, for this year, our MOTYA theme is “Ban the Bag”. The Sixth Grade is taking action by informing you about the issue that is occurring internationally. We must act upon the situation before the world becomes a plastic bag! Can you believe that 500 billion to 1 trillion bags are being wasted every year? They are made and thrown away, made and thrown away, but almost never end up in the recycling bin. All of these plastic bags contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and holes in the ozone layer. There are already countries and states who have agreed to “Ban the Bag,” and we should follow in their footsteps. Our beaches have been desecrated, and the marine life killed. We need to rid our world of this nonsense, because this is just the start.
Moreover, in the US alone, 12 million barrels of oil are wasted making plastic bags. What happens when these resources are gone? Every year, the average American family uses 700 to 1500 bags a year; that’s two hundred twenty-one billion, two hundred seventy million bags in only 365 days! (221,270,000,000!) The factories making these bags continue to pollute the air at a costly rate. If they even get to the landfill, the bags will eventually leak all of their pollutants into our Earth. Recycling is a huge step, but only 5% of all plastic bags are being recycled. This percentage needs to increase. However, this is not the greatest solution, as it still inflicts damage upon the Earth. Not only do these chemicals and poisons affect the land, but they contaminate the air and sea as well. For example, when sea turtles mistake malleable garbage for jellyfish, they eat it, die, and entire eco systems are ruined. You wouldn’t bathe in a tub of toxins, so why should the Earth have to?
Furthermore, we all know the downside of using plastic, and how harmful it can be to the environment. But what does it mean to “Ban the Bag”? The project was started by a company called Hilex Poly. This leading industry manufacturer thought it imperative to take action, and started “Ban the Bag.” Hilex Poly also created the world’s leading plastic bag recycling plant, which recycled 20 million plastic bags in 2010 alone. Cities in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Rhode Island, and Washington are already setting an example. Countries such as Bangladesh, China, Ireland, Italy, and India have also taken action. Stores, including Carre Four, Ikea and NTUC Fair Price, have begun to take part in this crusade, by vetoing artificial baggage. By working together, we can save our Earth from the villainous plastic bag! What is the real point of using so much plastic and paper when there are many reusable resources available? Think about that cabinet in your house or apartment where all those bags are stored. How often do you choose the eco-friendly ones? Our class realized it is not as frequent as it should be, and we want everyone to take action now! There are various types of “green” options: bags made of cloth, bags made from recycled products, insulated bags, and bags that fold up into tiny pocket sizes! With so many different alternatives to choose from, we make the wrong choice time and time again. When you are in line at the deli, and all you have is a sandwich and a coffee, do you really need the bag? If you go to Rite Aid to simply get batteries and band aids, just say no! Why is this important? As adolescents, this is vital to our future, as we want Earth to be safe and clean not just now, but for the generations to come.
To sum things up, we have a few simple solutions to erase bags from the environment. For starters, BYOB! Bring your own BAG so you’re always prepared. Secondly, stores can start offering incentives to customers who BYOB. Incentives can range from giving points, to taking a percentage off the final sale. Stores can also have reusable bags for sale, which happen to be larger, more durable, and even pleasing to the eye! It would be wonderful if plastic bag manufacturers found a way to make their products safer for the environment. Nevertheless, we know money is to be made, and this is not a realistic or genuine approach. BUT, together we can refuse to use, and start making a difference. You all have a part in this. We can be the healers of our own faults, and need to lead by example! Inspire people, one bag at a time! For the human, animal, and environment’s sake, let’s stop the city tumble weed from continuing its tour around the world.