Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Oct 21st
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

 

Field Work

Santa Cruz Mountain winemakers explain how the harvest works, and what kind of wine to expect from this year's crop

 

Libra's Two Choices

Libra (our last week) is the sign of creating right relations and values. In Libra we are asked to choose how to be, our identity in the world. We can maintain a hermetic sealed-off attitude (my life, my work, my money, etc.) or we can gain knowledge of world events and learn more about those in need. Libra is a group sign—self with others. Here are some events occurring in our world this week concerning food, poverty, spirituality, values and global realities. The UN (a spiritual experiment) each month places a “light” upon world problems. This week a light shines on Rural Women, Farms, Food & Poverty. Before we choose to respond we must have knowledge. “So we can each do our part.” Oct. 15 - International Day of Rural Women (unrecognized with few resources); Oct. 16 - World Food Day & Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth; Oct. 17 - Eradication of Poverty Day (international). During the month of Libra (with Saturn exalted), we pause, contemplate and assess what it is we know, don’t know, and need to know. Libra receives and distributes Ray 3 of divine intelligence, right relations, right choice and right economy (Venus). Use your intelligence “tips the Libran scales” in terms of being able to see and then choose between the two paths Libra offers (return to the past or step forward into Scorpio’s Discipleship). Libra (the oscillating light) prepares us for the great tests and conflicts in Scorpio. In Libra we are subtly tested as we learn the nature of polarized energies (s/he loves me, s/he loves me not). In Libra we learn more about ourselves through others. Libra’s Ray 3 asks us to become more adaptable and skillful. And then we are to teach each other what we know. In Libra, we all become teachers. In all these ways love is cultivated.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Docs Without Borders

United Nations Association Film Festival showcases documentaries from around the globe
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Nut Kreations

Co-owner Craig Olsen goes nuts over nuts

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Friends who are wine club members of Martin Ranch invited us to the winery’s fun and festive annual barbecue, where the wine is flowing and the food just keeps on coming. Music and dancing are part and parcel of the action, and a good time is guaranteed.

 

Beer Bus

Santa Cruz’s new Brew Cruz, award winning ales, mole by el Jardín, and Wildcat Ridge Chardonnay