Single-Use Plastics and The Cost of Convenience

*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the East Coast Current.

New Smyrna Beach and Single Use Plastics

Last month, the city of New Smyrna Beach gave citizens the opportunity to weigh in on a proposed ban on single-use plastics in city facilities, such as parks and venue spaces. From where I was standing, it appeared that most residents were in favor of such a proposal, and I say good on them. 

Some concerns were brought up regarding people with disabilities, and those items should be considered, but in my opinion, the proposed partial ban on single-use plastics is a modest step in the right direction.

Politics and Plastics

In Florida politics, crusty old dinosaurs reign supreme. Young people and people with innovative ideas are castigated and gaslighted as “liberals” or rabble rousers. But when it comes down to it, new proposals such as this one only fail because the people with the pens wish to harken back to the old days – when Florida was more of a frontier than a coast-to-coast metropolis with the nation’s third-largest population. 

Folks, those days are gone for good. And, if we want to keep Florida as a viable life-supporting ecosystem, we are going to need to make meaningful changes fast. That shouldn’t be a partisan issue. For people like me, with a working knowledge of ecology, it’s difficult not to wince when people are too lazy and ignorant to even be willing to give up a straw every now and then. 

So much is at risk, and if we don’t start giving up a lot more than straws and plastic bags, septic tanks and fertilizers, Florida is not going to be a place where people want to live, and maybe not even a place where it’s possible for people to live. 

What will the city do about plastic waste in the future?

Now, I know we’ve been hearing that for some time, and to some it sounds alarmist. But things have been getting worse for some time, too, and they’ll continue to do so at a dizzying pace unless we first, clean up our mess, and second, commit permanently to not making new ones. The clock is ticking, and algae blooms, sea levels rising, extinction events and severe storms tell us that every second counts. 

If it passes, the proposed city ordinance will have only a modest impact on the environmental damage caused by single-use plastics, but as Mark Twain said, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” I’m glad our city and our citizens are getting started now.

Bryon White author biography

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