Scholarship Award: Young Steward of Public Policy

Maple So
Second Place Winner 2008-2009


Scholarship Award

Young Steward of Public Policy

SRP General Dynamics C4 Systems APS The Arizona Republic Tucson Citizen

Second Place Award 2008-2009

"Proposal for Recycling Plastic Bags"

By Maple So
Yuma High School
Yuma, Arizona

The sound of the scanner continuously rang as the requests of the lady in the pink suit were persistently made. I listened to this dainty lady speak as fussy comments were made, “I want a separate bag for this and this,” or “No, no, no. Can you please not bag that and that in the same plastic bag?”

The supply of plastic bags located on the left side of the cashier was constantly being tugged on as each new sheet of sleek plastic bags was separated from the entire stack. After the cashier was finished scanning her items at the check-out line, her cart presented the appearance of a bright blur of yellow grocery bags. The apparent fact was almost as though this picky woman visited the store to do some “plastic-bag shopping” rather than simple grocery shopping, judging by the fact that nearly every two items in her cart needed to be bagged separately. Watching this interesting scene had brought to my attention that the Arizona community needs to enforce a policy of recycling plastic bags at every business that uses them as part of their packaging procedure.

If every consumer in Arizona was to be as finicky as the lady in the pink suit, then perhaps it would not require a long time until our sanitary landfills are used up, and then society must start using the city streets as a basic wasteland. Based on the USA TODAY’s “Whole Foods Sacks Plastic Bags” published on January 21, 2008, a non-recyclable plastic bag needs over 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill. The excessive use of plastic bags in each business demanded by its consumers presented a practice of “persistent-use-but-no-persistent-save” situation.

What are the major concerns with this present situation? The first concern is apparently the negligence of environmental conservation: consumers and the entrepreneurs in Arizona are using plastic bags in great quantities but not enough recycling posts are created for consumers to deposit their grocery bags for repeated rounds of use. In order to solve this issue, my proposal is for all businesses that use plastic bags to have a recycling bin sponsored by the city. Then, when the sanitary workers come to collect trash, they must also collect the plastic bags from the recycling bins and store them in a separate section of the garbage truck for the purpose of reprocessing. Because this will be an additional service that the state provides, an increase in taxes from its residents must be enforced. “If push comes to shove,” due to the possibility that some consumers could not care less about depositing the bags in the provided bin, businesses can reimburse the customer one penny per plastic bag that the consumer brings to pack their goods. The businesses must keep a tally of how many plastic bags are reimbursed and submit the legal document to the state to obtain an annual tax deduction.

As a future adult of Arizona, my secondary concern relates to the vision of how this bad habit of not recycling will one day corrupt the actions of young people. Continuous usage of plastic bags and demonstrating no means of environmental conservation are becoming frequent habits of numerous children. By presenting the importance of maintaining the environment in a healthy state, Arizona will be producing an exemplary model for its young children to follow. The simple lesson is basically teaching humans to clean up after themselves. If everyone is just using up materials and forgetting to recycle, then it is the same principle as littering their own house and then seeing one day the wastes piling up to the roof. This hypothetical vision of the future will only occur to our children if nobody agrees to establish a strict system of aggregate recycling; hence, in this case, the future of Arizona will obviously become a lazy machine of pure consumption. Taking into consideration the recycling aspect of the future as a major goal, the actions of the young people of Arizona will then paint a picture of honest dedication of environmental conservation by recycling a scarce resource for its future descendants.

During the summer of 2005 when I visited Hong Kong, China, I took notice of the supermarkets in that island that were taking an immediate stance in preserving the environment by only providing plastic bags for produce and meat products; any other items that the customer wished to be bagged would be charged for accordingly. Since environmental conservation is occurring internationally, this proves that the process of preserving is critical for all people to participate; hence, Arizona should absolutely take action in its community immediately to this great cause for the benefit of humanity in the present and in the future.

2008-2009 Awardees page

Main Young Steward page

Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University
School of Public Affairs | College of Public Programs
Mail Code: 4220, 411 North Central Avenue, Suite 900, Phoenix, Arizona 85004-0692
Phone: 602-496-0900 Fax: 602-496-0964