Reducing plastic waste important, but answer more complicated
We agree with Cindy Merrick (June 7th) that plastic waste needs to be reduced. However, accomplishing this goal is not so simple. Take the plastic bag issue, for example. In California where store plastic bags are banned, sale of packaged plastic bags has skyrocketed because people wanted them for lining trash cans or doing dog duties.
There are also studies that in terms of energy and resource use, paper or canvas bags are not necessarily better. In order to truly solve the plastic problems, we need to learn the facts, raise awareness, and make efforts both as individuals and as a society. Plastic is light, durable, and inexpensive, and we’ve grown addicted to it. Plastic’s very durability poses difficulty for its disposal. Roughly 300 million tons of plastic waste is produced in the world each year. Since the 1950s, only 9% of global plastic waste has been recycled, 12% incinerated, and the rest has gone either into landfills or into the natural environment as pollution (https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782).
Thanks to our efficient and hardworking sanitation department, we do not see much litter in our town. Nonetheless, city workers testify that it is expensive to handle our trash. The trash trucks are costly to run and maintain. Even with recycling, our landfills are filling up faster than ever. What can we do? Policy-level change may be necessary ultimately, but there are a number of things citizens can do. The old mantra, “reduce, reuse, recycle” still gives us a good guideline.First, we can reduce consumption of single-use plastics. The largest use for plastic, outside of synthetic fiber, is packaging: as much as 42%, which includes items like water bottles and take-out boxes. If more of us carried our own reusable cups and containers, we would significantly reduce disposable plastics.We can live without many of the disposable containers.
Until about 30 years ago, cafés served coffee in a ceramic cup, and buying plain water in plastic bottles was unimaginable.We can also encourage businesses to make changes. Consider this fact: Unilever, a leading worldwide maker of household goods from shampoo to ice cream, has pledged to make all of their containers reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025. Surely, Norman restaurants can switch to compostable take-out boxes, too. Of course, some people suggest that recycling is the answer: Can’t we continue business as usual as long as we recycle plastic? The truth is that plastic recycling is challenging. It requires a lot of energy and resources. Recycling is only the last resort.Finally, and most fundamentally, we should reconsider our wasteful consumer culture.
We live in a strange, economy of producing, buying, and discarding/recycling things we don’t even need, expending resources and polluting the environment in the process. The task of reducing waste does not have to be onerous. Those who aspire for a zero-waste life-style argue that this gives them a sense of serenity and control over their lives. It is a more mindful way of living.
Tomoko Yoshida and Stephen Weldon,
Congratulations to participants in Boys, Girls State
Congratulations to the boys and girls who attended Boys and Girls State sponsored by the American Legion of Oklahoma and the Norman Transcript for recognizing them on the front page of the Norman Transcript today, 6/10/2019. These youth will be future leaders of our Nation. “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” (John F. Kennedy inaugural address, 1961). This should be our battle cry.
In the hustle bustle of daily living and many distractions it is easy to overlook our duty to promote patriotism. Patriotism is not a single action and is not easy to describe. It is something that people feel inside of themselves, and this feeling is different for each and every person. One simple definition is ”the love for or devotion to one's country”.
The American Legion chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 is a patriotic veterans organization. It is the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow service members and veterans. In 2019 the 100th anniversary of the American Legion and the 75th anniversary of D-Day it is especially important for all Americans, not just military veterans, to focus on patriotism and recognize the prices paid for freedom.
There are two significant actions an everyday citizen can take to demonstrate their patriotism. One is informed voting, a private action, and the other is displaying the American flag, a public visual action. Voting should be based on personal decision not blinding following a party or characteristic person. In other words acting like a lemming. A lemming is a small, short-tailed, thickset rodent that during their mass migrations, herds of lemmings following a leader hurl themselves over the edge of cliffs into the ocean where the strong swim and survive but many drown when their strength is exhausted before they reach land. The term is used to mean a "blind following" behavior of a person who unthinkingly joins a mass movement, leading to a headlong rush to destruction. Sound familiar?
America is on the edge of “going over the cliff”. Patriotism is a major factor in “putting on the brakes”. We must collectively address issues threatening America and its reputation like national debt, discrimination, internal turmoil, misguided priorities, international diplomatic conflicts, and other factors.
On July 4, 2019 we can display our patriotism, an American flag, at our home or business to show our love and devotion to a free and respected America. My American flags will be on display. Join me if you will.
Again, congratulations to the youth who willingly gave up some of their personal time and energy to attend the American Legion of Oklahoma Boys and Girls State. They are true leaders.