Recently the United States has gone to war; albeit the war is against plastic straws and not an actual country, but nonetheless it is a war. While the term war may seem a bit harsh, the amount of plastic waste harming our environment is even harsher. By 2050 there will be more plastic, (in terms of weight) than fish in the ocean (Petroff, 2018). If that prediction doesn’t alarm you then I don’t know what will. Due to this recent calculation, many countries are proposing bans, trying to discourage the use of plastic materials as much as possible. In Germany for example, bagging your groceries into a plastic bag will cost you an extra $0.20 per bag. The European Commission has proposed a legislation that will have all single use plastics banned by 2030 (Petroff, 2018). This legislation is a huge deal because it seemingly splits the responsibility between both the consumer and the business/corporation.
Other than threatening corporations with hefty environmental fines, our textbook discusses more positive ways to change people’s behaviors that would essentially benefit our environment. Firstly, we must choose a specific behavior to change that will improve the quality of the environment (CITE). Then we look at the factors that may influence said behavior (CITE). Third we come up with a plan, or design to change the specific behavior, and last, but not least we evaluate the results to see if it had an impact or not.
To change something as big as our plastic footprint, you must change the culture. Many people would be hesitant to give marketing companies their due credit, but this is why advertising is crucial and such an important piece of culture. Trying to appeal to someone’s inner sense of what’s right or wrong is not enough. Simply put, if you want to change the way someone thinks and behaves, you merely have to convince them that everybody else is doing it. Cue America’s favorite capitalist corporation: Starbucks. On July 9, 2018 America’s favorite coffee company announced that by 2020 they would eliminate all single-use plastic straws in more than 25,000 of their operated and licensed stores in North America (Viswanathan 2018). With such a prominent figure in American culture putting forth such a big move to improving our environment, it is only a matter of time before other popular food and retail companies follow suit. Normally I am one to support those that stand out from the pack, but in this case doing “what everybody else is doing” may not be such a bad thing after all.
Gruman, Jamie A., et al. Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. 2nd ed., SAGE, 2017.
Petroff, Alanna. “Plastic Ban: Europe Plans to Phase out Plastic Cutlery, Straws and More.” CNNMoney, Cable News Network, 28 May 2018, money.cnn.com/2018/05/28/news/europe-plastic-ban-proposal/index.html
Viswanathan, Radhika. “Why Starbucks, Disney, and Tom Brady Are All Shunning Plastic Straws.” Vox, Vox, 27 July 2018, www.vox.com/2018/6/25/17488336/starbucks-plastic-straw-ban-ocean-pollution.