Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Plastic Saves Lives

Talifaitasi W. Satele


Have you ever seen that commercial where the setting is in a hospital, and everything made of plastic starts disappearing? The I.V. bags, X-Ray Photos, the bedding patients lie on, etc. After all things plastic have disappeared, the hospital room is bare metal and wood; not a pretty sight at all, especially if you’re an institution charged with saving people’s lives.

As Mr. Kneubuhl acknowledges in his guest editorial dated 8/19/2009, “The Pago Pago Jellyfish”, everything we consume involves the use of plastic in one form or another. Most of our foods are packaged with and preserved by the material. Why? Because plastic’s attributes make that possible.

If another material could do what plastic does at a cheaper price, we would be using it. We use plastic because it’s cheap, very durable and very convenient, and any realistic alternative would have to surpass those qualities if it has any chance of serving as a replacement in the free market.

Nevertheless, it is plastic’s greatest strength (durability) that serves as its greatest weakness in the eyes of the public. It’s not biodegradable (if it were, we wouldn’t be using it the way we do) and it sticks around long enough to cause an eyesore. But that shouldn’t serve as reason to dismiss this product’s blessings, but rather as a point of focus for its proper disposal.

And one can glean as much from the comments on Mr. Kneubuhl’s guest editorial on Samoa News’ website. And I believe Mark would agree with me that as far as plastic being an inherent danger to its human consumers’ health, the science is not settled yet.

But as far as the plastic bag ban being that gentle “prodding” the Chamber of Commerce believes businesses need to do what they think is right, let’s remember how gentle the container inspections at the loading docks were, or the Governor’s ban on 10 year old import vehicles. The first was a boondoggle failure and the latter caused mass confusion with residents (especially for Military Veterans returning home) losing time, money and assets.

Pollution is a problem that involves more than just plastic bags, and their outright ban may have costs that far outweigh the benefits.

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