Opinion – Seeing Through The Plastic


photo by Olivia Ethington

Beth Brewster, Web Editor

If you went to the beach this summer, did you notice anything about the people there? Did you notice someone eating a hot dog or a popsicle? How about a group of people playing volleyball? Some little kids building sandcastles with those cute little shovels? Certainly, a few teenagers tanning, pushing the limits of their sunblock?


Did you notice that all of these people were using plastic?


Plastic is all around us, you probably wouldn’t ever think about it. The plastic bags they keep frozen food in, the plasticizer that is made into the synthetic or composite leather of the volleyball, the shovels and molds for building sandcastles, and the bottle that sunblock or tanning lotion comes in, all of these things and more contain plastic.


With such prominent use of plastic in our society, you would think that we would have an advantageous way of getting rid of it. The problem is, about 8 million metric tons of plastic are thrown into the ocean annually. Of those, 236,000 tons are microplastics, tiny pieces of broken-down plastic smaller than your smallest fingernail. Many marine organisms can’t distinguish common plastic items from food. Animals who eat plastic often starve because they can’t digest the plastic and it fills their stomachs, preventing them from eating real food [Earth Day 2018 | End Plastic Pollution, ‘Fact Sheet: Plastics in the Ocean’].


Two-thirds of the plastic in the oceans comes straight from land-based sources: litter being left on the beach or washed down rivers and drains from litter being dropped in towns and cities. It also comes from industry spills, badly managed landfill sites and bins near the coast, or by being flushed down the toilet. The rest is lost at sea by containers going overboard or lost fishing gear [Surfers Against Sewage, ‘The Problem With Plastic Pollution’].


This problem might seem overwhelming, which is why many people have been jumping on the banning plastic straw train, but does that really work? Will that fix this problem? No, straws are not the problem, in an article by Gabbi Shaw for Insider, it states that, “In the grand scheme of things, banning straws won’t make a big dent in that overall problem. According to Bloomberg News, if all 8.3 billion plastic straws that are found along beaches across the globe suddenly washed into the ocean, it would still only account for 0.03% of the 8 million metric tons of plastic that goes into the water annually.”  


We should do something about the over 1.5 million plastic bottles or the annual 380 billion single-use plastic bags and wraps used by the US alone. Certainly, that would make a much bigger difference, and they already have alternate commodities that are better for the environment.


Each one of us is needed to make a change, we can alter small parts of our lives in order to make a difference. Too many people just throw their items that could easily be recycled in the trash.


Our school can help by bettering the recycling program that we have and prompt students to actively use it. We can also use paper more efficiently. Lots of paper is left with blank parts that could easily be used by a student. Teachers can also assign more online assignments and encourage students to recycle more.

Another way we can help is reusing single-use plastic bottles or bringing reusable bottles from home. We can make a big impact by just changing small parts of our lives in the choices of materials we use. Refuse extra plastic, recycle, reuse, and clean up after yourself and others so the plastic that we do use does not end up in the oceans.


For West Jordan, it is important to be aware of this list because if things are recycled wrong it can cause an entire batch of recycling to go to the landfill.

Paper & Cardboard

  • Office Paper 
  • Junk Mail 
  • Magazines 
  • Newspaper 
  • Paper Bags 
  • Paperboard 
  • Boxes 
  • Cardboard Egg Cartons 
  • Cardboard 
  • Clean Pizza Box Lids

Aluminum & Steel 

  • Empty Aerosol Cans 
  • Aluminum Cans 
  • Steel Cans

Plastic Bottles & Jugs


All other plastic containers and packaging are not accepted.

No plastic bags, foam, or glass. All items must be free of food & liquids.