A Shocking, Argumented Point of View: Plastic Bags Are not Bad for Earth's Health

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Paper vs. Plastic

Initially most individuals believe “green” items or items that are biodegradable are significantly better for the environment; however, this is far from the truth like the tooth fairy being real. As a supporter of capitalism, created by Adam Smith, the firm belief in Laissez Faire is one of several reasons why plastic bags should not be taxed. Through sheer capitalism, significant environmental advantages, and violations of the Constitution by forcing taxes, plastic bags should not only be nontaxable, but emphasized as the preferable bag of use over paper bags for consumer shopping.

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The simplicity of items being biodegradable under proper conditions would pose as a pro towards paper bags; however, in today’s world paper bags are more misleading than they appear. Although paper bags are biodegradable the likelihood of them being able to biodegrade in a landfill is slim to none. In order for a biodegradable item to break down it must be exposed to air, light, and water. Modern landfills do not expose waste to the proper conditions to biodegrade. When compressed, landfills are more than half full of paper, while plastic only takes up 10% of landfills (Source C). Neither will biodegrade which makes plastic the more environmentally safe option. According to the Environmental Literacy Council, it takes less energy, less space, less fuel, and less resources to transport plastic bags to stores than paper. “It would take approximately seven trucks to transport the same number of paper bags as can be transported by a single truck full of plastic bags.” The energy required to transport plastic bags vs. paper bags is represented by a 1:7 ratio. According to the Institute for Lifecycle Environmental Assessment, paper contributes to over two times the amount of atmospheric waste, smog and acid rain, as plastic. Paper also produces over ten times the amount of waterborne waste than plastic. This disproves the accusation that paper is more environmentally friendly than plastic.

In terms of manufacturing, plastic takes the win. The Grassroots Recycling Network states, “The manufacture of plastic bags produced considerably less air pollution, waterborne wastes, and industrial solid-waste than the manufacture of paper.” (Grassroots Recycling Network) Also, “Plastic bags have these advantages even when…using 1.5 or 2 times as many plastic bags to pack the same groceries as paper.” (Grassroots Recycling Network) Plastic bags actually save the environment from some of the dangers of paper bags. Why tax something that is beneficial? Plastic bags are also better for the environment energy-wise. “Plastic bags required slightly less energy to manufacture at a use rate of 1.5 to 1 compared with paper.” (Grassroots Recycling Network)

To those who side with taxing plastic bags, I hold out an olive branch. By forcing a tax upon plastic bags the government is not only breaking the belief towards Laissez Faire, but they are breaking the fifth amendment through the Takings Clause. The government is also violating the 13th amendment through involuntary servitude. Unless having plastic bags can be punishable by crime in no circumstance can the government break involuntary servitude. Therefore, forcing a tax upon plastic bags breaks what the United States of America stands for when the founding fathers wrote the Constitution. I say take the olive branch and bury this idea with all of the other unconstitutional ones proposed before it.

Local and federal government want to require businesses to purchase and use a defined percentage of recycled materials. Recycled items are as much as 15% higher than those of competitive virgin products and thus would be a good replacement for plastic bag taxes. Letting the government tax plastics is the last thing we need. The Laissez Faire system is based on the principle that people can follow their dreams and create what they want. In theory, the U.S. economy is based on this system. Putting a tax on plastic bags would be unfair to the manufacturers of plastic and those that supply them. Since “plastic bags are made from petroleum”(Grassroots Recycling Network), putting a tax on plastic to reduce plastic waste would lower the demand of petroleum thus un-employing many Americans working in the petroleum field. Taxing plastic bags would also be harming the idea of choice since most stores would simply purchase paper bags instead of the more environmentally friendly plastic bags.

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