Faith MollMr. McBrideGovernment19 Dec. 2017Regulations to Help the Environment The environment is in danger, but we can help. There are many factors that endanger the environment and few we can control. However, there are certain bans and regulations that could be put in affect to help save and protect the environment. One would be mandatory trash and recycling separation for everyone. This would ensure that resources are used to their fullest and close down on the waste gap. It would also decrease the amount of items in landfills that are hazardous. With ongoing recycling energy, money, and resources will be saved. Another item to regulate would be the use of plastics. Plastics bottles, bags and the alike are harming the wildlife and wasting money. Bans and regulations should be implemented to help save and protect the environment. Landfills across the state are beginning to reach capacity and many will be “closing down within the next decade” (Environmental Benefits). Therefore we need to implement mandatory recycling and trash separation for everyone. This would cut down on the amount of trash sent to the landfills because recycling will not be included. Each year we are “having to pay for resources that are growing scarce in the country”, when we could easily recycle and reuse these materials. The past few years has shown an average “recycling rate of 30%”. Meaning the majority of items that could be recycled are wasted. Every bit of recycling helps, when the “economy does not have to pay for planting more forests, mining iron ore or purchasing fossil fuels from other countries”. In fact, the energy saved from recycling one glass bottle is enough to light a light bulb for four hours (Benefits of Recycling). Wasting these sources is dragging the economy down even further. By separating trash, we could also potentially cut down on greenhouse gases. “Greenhouse gases are primarily responsible for the increase in global warming” (Benefits of Recycling). Methane, a gas that is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide is caused from trash and organic material such as food scraps being combined. The mixture compacts down, removing oxygen and causes a breakdown in an anaerobic process. This process releases the harmful methane. If trash were to be separated completely, organic scraps and regular trash wouldn’t be mixed to even cause this harmful process. Hence avoiding the creation of this noxious gas.Paper is one item that can have a dramatic affect on our environment, if recycled. Making paper from recycled paper “uses 90% less water than making paper from scratch”. It also uses up to 50% less energy. Paper can be recycled up to 7 times (Environmental Benefits). Paper is used in our everyday lives. From the books we read, business cards we get, flyers at the store to even the daily mail. Think of all the water and energy is wasted on each sheet of paper that is thrown away. Mandatory recycling would avert this waste and in turn would make paper products cheaper.Batteries are another item that can impact the environment if taken care of properly. Batteries are a hazardous waste, they should not be placed in regular trash or put with paper recycling. However The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says “Americans throw away more than three billion batteries. That’s about 180,000 tons of batteries”, all wasted. Plus more than 86,000 tons of those batteries are the single use alkaline batteries, which if “placed end to end these dead alkaline batteries alone, would circle the world at least six times”. When a battery enters a landfill it can “be crushed or can easily degrade. This causes mercury and other toxins to leach into the environment (Battery Statistics). Imagine, all of those batteries are filling our landfills with hazardous chemicals, contaminating the ground our food comes from, the water we drink, and even the air we breathe. All which can be avoided with the proper regulations in effect. Regulations by the government could help the battery effects. If mandatory separation of trash and recycling existed for everyone, these batteries would be properly taken care of instead of overwhelming our landfills. Even further, the materials used could be recycled and reused. Which in turn would save money, energy and resources. Another way to help would be banning regular single use batteries. Instead only rechargeable batteries would be available. “Each rechargeable battery may substitute for hundreds of single-use batteries” (LibGuides). This ban would get rid of the unnecessary amount of batteries people go through. Plastic water bottles are another item that could be regulated by the government to help improve the environment. In 2016 Americans used “about 50 billion plastic water bottles”. However the average recycling rate for these plastics bottles is only 23%, do the math and only 11.5 billion were recycled (Bottled Water Facts). Another study showed the same 23% recycling rate. The results showed that the average American used “167 disposable water bottles but only recycled 38”. There is no reason for this much waste, all of those water bottles could have been recycled and reused. We are not only wasting the plastic, we are wasting the oil it takes to create them. “Making bottles to meet America’s demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil” each year. That’s enough oil to “fuel 1.3 million cars” in that same year. These calculations don’t even include the oil use of transporting these water bottles (Bottled Water Facts). Additionally the overuse of plastic water bottles could easily be cut down by consumers. Instead of buying case after case of water, invest in a travel water bottle. One you can refill and keep on the go. Some say this is idea doesn’t work for them because they want clean and purified water. Nevertheless there’s an eco friendly solution to that too. Invest in a water filter for your sink, it will not only save you money, it will save the environment. Even buying water in bulk, such as a 5 gallon water jug. These are much easier to return for recycling and use less energy to create. Plastic bottles aren’t the only form of plastic that is going to waste, there’s also plastic bags. Plastic bags are made “of polypropylene… manufactured from petroleum and natural gas”. These “petroleum based bags never degrade”, instead they are broken down into tiny pieces. These pieces are swept away by the wind and in turn end up in the oceans, being consumed by wildlife (20 Reasons Why). The Monterey Bay Aquarium located in California found that “97% of Laysan Albatross chicks that were found dead… had plastic in their stomachs”. The Ocean Conservancy did a 25 year study of garbage along the the beach shore. The number four item was these plastic bags that aren’t being taken care of. These bags are killing our wildlife and cluttering our scenic beaches. There needs to be regulations implemented by our government to help protect the environment and to avoid further damage. Some areas in the states are already working on it. In the District of Columbia a 5 cent bag tax has been put into motion. This is an attempt to help restore and clean the Anacostia River. When Michael Bolander the Anacostia River keeper set traps in the water to collect trash, a whole 50% of the trash were plastic bags. In 2009, 22.5 million bags were used in the area. After implementing the tax, it dropped to 3 million in 2010, and Michael Bolander says “now we almost never find a bag” (Do Plastic Bans Help). Shoppers bring their own reusable bags, such as those found in the store Aldi’s.. Some argue that the tax will cost them unnecessary money, if they want to use plastic bags instead of bringing their own. However across the country, its “around 17 cents per bag” to pay for cleaning the streets of these bags. Thus “on average the taxpayers end up paying around $88 each year” just on the cleanup (20 Reasons Why). This is more money spent and more work needed than before the ban. Imagine the difference the nation as a whole could make, if bans and taxes were implemented. More than “40 nations together with municipalities around the globe have instituted plastic bag bans… China banned plastic bags and four years later, the amount of plastic bags thrown into the environment had reduced by 40 billion” (20 reasons Why). These nations are having a massive positive effect on the environment, but more countries need to be involved. Our country needs help, to protect and save our environment. In conclusion, regulations need to be installed in everyday life. The use of plastic needs to be diminished, plastics affect our wildlife from never truly degenerating. The plastics we do use, should be properly recycled. Recycling is a fateful affair that is not taken seriously enough. If taken seriously we could save money, energy, materials and resources. Trash and recycling in general would save and protect so much if only they were fitly separated and taken care of. Everyday the environment is affected for the worse by mankind. It is our obligation to reverse this affect to the best of our ability.