Why education about plastic vs paper use is important for understanding how they impact our environment

The environment is the natural world and how it is affected by human activity. Environmental education, studies human interaction with the environment and the goal is to have a world population that is aware of environmental problems. 

Most people don't know about environmental problems, by not knowing, we aren't aware of what damage we could be inflicting on the environment everyday that could be simply avoided. People with university degrees are 25% more likely to adopt pro-environmental behaviours than people with no education qualifications.

Who has heard about the potential plastic bag ban? Most people agree with it because of all they’ve heard about how bad plastic is. However people are blinding following what others are saying without actually knowing anything about the topic.

The alternatives for plastic bags are actually worse for the environment. Single-use plastic bags overall have the lowest carbon footprint compared to the alternatives. Majority of the greenhouse gases produced come from extracting the raw materials needed to make it, they are also efficient to transport as they are lightweight. If we don't consider all the factors of other resources here we will only be exchanging plastic bags for something worse and more damaging.

Paper bags are four times heavier than plastic bags and have a much larger carbon footprint. Although trees seem more natural than oil it requires larger amount of water, energy and chemicals which make pollution to manufacture a paper bag than plastic. This has been confirmed by a report in the US Department of Energy. The environmental impact of 1 single use plastic bag equals 4 uses of a paper bag, and 173 uses for a cotton reusable bag. Single use plastic bags only account for 1% of litter found in the ocean however they are the main cause for the death of marine life as they are easily consumed and suffocate or starve the animal. And the only problem here is why are these plastic bags getting into the ocean in the first place? If humans didn’t litter and disposed of our rubbish properly we wouldn’t have a problem at all.

Paper bags don't degrade any faster than plastic in a well-run landfill, they are much bulkier than plastic, so they fill more landfill space causing them to close down because they’re full. Because of this, plastic is much better than paper. There are so many solutions to this problem and yet everyone chooses the simple option by pointing their finger and saying “no more plastic bags”, as if that will fix everything.

Personally I think plastic is an amazing invention and is extremely useful, however it becomes harmful when people like yourselves dispose of that plastic in the wrong way. Having people educated on this matter means everyone would know how to dispose of their rubbish correctly and people are more inclined to do the ethically correct thing if we know the consequences of our actions. People don’t care because they don't know. Out of sight out of mind right? Well it won't be out of mind when the whole world is SUFFERING because all our fish are toxic with plastic particles inside them, when we consume those fish and get the toxins. When our entire agricultural industry comes to a stop because people didn't care until it was too late. Open your eyes. Can you not see what is happening? The newspapers are filled with articles on how bad the environment is getting. But no, everyone skips over those articles thinking ‘someone else’s problem’. Oh yea because it’s TOTALLY someone else’s problem when YOU have nothing to eat in fear of getting plastic toxins. This is why it's so important for young people who will soon grow up and be in charge of their own lives to choose an eco-friendly life. So why not invest in educating the youth?

Lets start doing something about it! Volunteer your time to help environment groups who are set up in place for people like you to get involved with your world. Refuse a straw or single use plastics where unnecessary, don't waste perfectly good food, water or paper, turn the light off when you're not using it. So simple yet if everyone did these things we would make a huge difference.

When people can't change something bigger than themselves they feel helpless or angry, they decide to pretend it isn't there instead. No matter what anyone says, you're never too young to start changing the world positively. 

By Lois Wadsworth

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