Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Jul 07th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

To Ban or Not To Ban

pileofplasticThe last installment in a rhetorical analysis of the single-use plastic bag debate

 

As I have discussed in the past three blog entries, and as Rebekah Fox and Joshua Frye state in their 2010 article, “Tensions of Praxis: A New Taxonomy for Social Movements,” “the relationship between the communication and environment is critical, but difficult to explain.”



In order to achieve a more enlightened human-nature relationship, we must first look at the discourse surrounding our practices with synthetic materials. Rhetoric is an instrument that social movement leaders and organizations use to achieve a number of different effects. Both groups I have discussed in my analysis are trying to achieve an environmental change through transformation of thought. The plastic corporations—the ACC and SPI—are centering their rhetorical argument on recycling. Whereas the environmental groups—Save the Bay and Surfrider Foundation—are moving more towards reusable bags as an end goal, ultimately getting rid of both plastic and paper bags, thus abandoning the throwaway lifestyle our culture has adopted.

It is fascinating to see the direction each side takes in their fight to either ban or not ban single-use plastic bags. Changing human behavior takes time. Both groups seem to agree that we need to change the way we think about our throwaway living. Plastic lobbyists go about this by highlighting the benefits of recycling and the innovations plastics have allowed. Environmental groups attack this concept by pushing for reusable bags to replace all single-use items. Through the means of discourse and visual rhetoric used by each group in the plastic bag debate, each side creates relevant arguments against and for the issue at hand. This analysis attempts to highlight the functions each group’s rhetoric in this debate is trying to achieve.

We are in the era of disposability and we are now recognizing that our plastic throwaways do not simply go away. This realization has caused us to rethink our relationship with single-use items. Each side of the debate has proven how powerful rhetorical arguments can be. Both the plastic corporations and environmental groups in this debate have started to rethink society’s relationship with the material world through their research and verbal discussions.

As the debate continues, which side of the argument do you side with? Paper, plastic or reusable? I invite you to look at fact and myth sheets for yourself and decide where you stand on the plastic versus paper debate, and whether communities around the world should continue to ban or not ban plastic shopping bags. The single-use plastic debate doesn’t look like it will end anytime soon, and by examining the rhetoric from each side of the debate we gain more insight into how each side uses persuasive tactics to transform our thoughts on the issue at hand.

Useful links and fact sheets:

-Save the Bay: http://www.savesfbay.org/bay-vs-bag
http://www.savesfbay.org/sites/default/files/MythvFact_bags_final.pdf

-Surfrider Foundation: http://www.surfrider.org/programs/entry/rise-above-plastics

-American Chemistry Council: http://plastics.americanchemistry.com/MajorMyths

-The Progressive Bag Affiliates: http://www.bagtheban.com/
http://www.plasticbagfacts.com/Main-Menu/Fast-Facts

-Society of the Plastics Industry: http://www.plasticsindustry.org/AboutPlastics/content.cfm?ItemNumber=712&;navItemNumber=1123

 


Jamie Foster is a second year graduate student in communication studies at San Francisco State University, where she is currently studying the discourse used within the plastic bag debate and how each side—plastic corporations and environmental groups—construct their arguments. Good Times hosted four blogs by Jamie about this subject. If you would like to see a complete version of her paper or have any questions please email her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

Comments (1)Add Comment
...
written by G from Sverige, December 13, 2011
Interesting series of articles, points out how perspectives are influenced. Articles suggests that rational thought requires earnest thought considering the debate or dilemma from each opposing argument, then using your own experience and logic to develop an informed opinion. Of course, considering the source of the argument supporting or denying a position is important in order to deciding how to process and weigh input from various perspectives. Credibility associated with an argument is not given, it should be earned though proof (arguable or not) and integrity of supporting logic and sources. Unfortunately, the Internet has diminished the credibility of many sources and arguments, so making an informd opinion requires more diligence than most people care to consider.

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Boards Are Back in Town

More than a century after a famed trio of Hawaiian princes first surfed in Santa Cruz, their redwood olo surfboards are returning to the Museum of Art & History

 

We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident

Saturday, July 4, is the 239th birthday of the United States, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence (the U.S. astrology chart has Aquarius moon—freedom for its people, by its people). Cancer, a liberating and initiating sign, is the “gate” where Spirit enters matter. Cancer receives and distributes Ray 3 (Divine Intelligence) and Ray 7 (new rules, new rhythms, new free nation under God). Cancer represents an intelligent freethinking humanity that can and must create right economics for the world. This means a policy of sharing, an opportunity for the U.S. when Venus (money, resources, possessions, etc.) retrogrades July and August in Leo (the heart of the matter). The United States has a unique spiritual task for the world: to lead humanity within and toward the light, accomplished by its people who must first awaken to this task, learn discrimination and be directed by the soul to assume the Herculean task of spiritual world leadership. Let us review the first words of our Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.” Let us form that union together. The following is a review of the spiritual tasks for each sign. Read all the signs. They all apply to everyone.  

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 3

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Lunch is Packed

Picnic basket lunches from Your Place, plus smoked chili peppers, and new owners at Camellia Tea House

 

What would you like the Supreme Court to rule on next?

Raising the minimum wage so that those that are in poverty now can have a higher standard of life. Greanna Smith, Soquel, Nanny

 

Bruzzone Family Vineyards

Bruzzone Family Vineyards is a small operation run by Berna and John Bruzzone. Starting out a few years ago making only Chardonnay, they eventually planted Pinot Noir on their extensive property and now make this varietal as well.

 

Ty’s Eatery

Pop-up hooks up with Santa Cruz Food Lounge for healthy comfort food