Banning single-use Plastic Water Bottles in Oakland
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Dear Mayor Schaaf and Councilmember Kalb,
We ask that the City of Oakland ban the sale of plastic water bottles. For years now, the entire planet has been experiencing extremely fast climate change caused by human generated pollution. Much of this pollution is created by wastefulness and garbage that we don’t use or need. Every year, enough plastic is thrown away to circle the earth four times. It takes between five hundred and one thousand years for plastic to decompose, so the lifespan of our plastic products are longer than our own. There are approximately 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in every square mile of the world’s oceans. Because plastic doesn’t biodegrade, many animals in the ocean end up ingesting it, making them very sick or sometimes killing them. Over 100,000 animals die every year because of plastic.
But plastic doesn’t only bring harm to animals. 93% of Americans above the age of six test positive for BPA. BPA, or bisphenol A, is a chemical used to harden plastic. Although no evidence is final, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued some concern on how BPA can affect your brain, behavior, and hormone levels. A few animal studies have also shown that there may be a link between BPA and cancer. Plastic doesn’t only hurt animals and our health; it also harms our environment. Every year, according to the Environmental Working Group, the U.S. manufacturing process of plastic water bottles takes the same amount of oil to fuel one million cars. It takes a lot of oil to make plastic, raising the possibility of oil spills. As I mentioned before, plastic is one of the biggest contributors to climate change. 90% of the trash floating on the surface of the ocean is plastic. Ten metric tons of plastic fragments in just the Los Angeles area alone are carried into the Pacific every single day.
Oakland is a huge city, consisting of about 400,000 people. Although plastic waste is caused by the entire planet, cutting down plastic use by one city is a great starting point. There are many alternatives to using plastic water bottles. Simply buying a reusable non-plastic water bottle or thermos is enough. This also saves you money because you won’t have to buy a new bottle every time you want water; you’ll only have to refill it. Another alternative is using boxed water. Instead of the container becoming landfill, it will be recyclable. We are all guilty of overusing plastic and taking it for granted; I have used countless plastic bottles, bags, and other items. By switching out one frequent item that we use with something that doesn’t produce as much waste, we are already helping the reduction of climate change.
Americans alone throw away 35 million plastic bottles every year, and although that may seem like too many to eliminate, cutting out our contribution of unnecessary waste is still a step forward. The consumption of plastic affects every single person because although we have different beliefs and perspectives, we all live on the same planet and share equal responsibility to take care of it. In conclusion, plastic waste is a major problem that affects our health, environment, and harms animals, but by making one simple change like this, we are making the world a better place.
9th grade student at Oakland Technical High School
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