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Should single-use plastics be banned?

As we consider the impacts that humans have had on the Earth, plastics have become a topic of discussion. Cities, states, and whole countries are taking action against single-use plastics - plastics that we use once and then discard. With new technologies, plastic taxes, and other strategies popping up around the world, we've become more aware of our plastic usage and its impact, but should we do away with them altogether?


Stonington Ponders Plastic Bag, Straw Ban

Canada wants to ban single-use plastics. Would it make a difference?

Additional resources to think about

Should Plastic Bags Be Banned Everywhere?
This student-written opinion piece dives into the arguments for and against a universal ban on single-use plastic bags. At the end of the article, it asks students some critical questions that might shape their arguments in the debate.

How the Plastics Industry Used Recycling to Fend Off Bans | "Plastic Wars" | FRONTLINE + NPR
This clip from the documentary "Plastic Wars" looks at how plastic producing companies stopped bans on plastic products by promoting recycling.

Banning Straws and Bags Won't Solve our Plastics Problem
WRI Blogger Mathy Stanislaus outlines the case for banning plastics and why bans like the ones happening across the United States aren't enough to stop the problem of plastic pollution.

What really happens to the plastic you throw away
This TED-Ed video follows the life of a single-use plastic bottle from its creation to its fate in either a landfill, a recycling center, or floating in the ocean.

Banning Straws Protects the Ocean but Limits Accessibility
This article from Rewire talks about the pros and cons of plastics bans, but also talks about why restrictions may hurt or create difficulties for some people with disabilities who rely on cheap, single-use plastics to go about their day.

The Problem with Plastics
The Shedd Aquarium dives into bodies of water all over the world to talk about problems that wildlife endure when they encounter discarded plastic products. The video also gives examples of how individuals and larger organizations can have an impact on plastics use.


Who created this message?

  • What kind of “text” is it?
  • How similar or different is it to others of the same genre?
  • What are the various elements (building blocks) that make up the whole?


What creative techniques are used to attract my attention?

  • What do you notice (about the way the message is constructed)? 
  • What’s the emotional appeal?
  • What makes it seem “real?”
  • What's the emotional appeal? Persuasive devices used?

How might different people understand this message differently from me?

  • How many other interpretations could there be?
  • How could we hear about them?
  • How can you explain the different responses?

What lifestyles, values, and points of view are represented in, or omitted from, this message?

  • What type of person is the reader/watcher/listener invited to identify with?
  • What ideas or perspectives are left out?
  • How would you find what’s missing?
  • What judgments or statements are made about how we treat other people?


Why is this message being sent?

  • What's being sold in this message? What's being told? 
  • Who is served by or  benefits from the message
    – the public?
    – private interests?
    – individuals?
    – institutions?

5 Key Questions of Media Literacy used with permission from the Center for Media Literacy.
Copyright 2002-2021, Center for Media Literacy,


Should single-use plastics be banned?

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