SOC 221: Social Problems

This semester I took the class Social Problems, at Central Michigan University, and had no idea what to expect. Six months ago, I did not even know about half the social problems that I do now. Each day I attended class, I was shocked and I always left feeling sad because I found out about issues I was not fully unaware of, such as violence and crime. I also learned more about issues I thought I was well versed in, such as gender inequality. However, even though being sad is not viewed as a good thing, there can be positives to it. The first step in fixing an issue is to know it exists. Now that I know about so many more issues in the world, I can start to take action and notify other people. For example, over the course of the semester I found out that I really want to become more sustainable and reach out to others and educate them. SOC 221 has a semester long project where each student selects a social issue, researches it, writes a paper on what institutions are causing the social problem and what can be done as a society to fix the issue, and then to take action themselves. For my topic, I chose plastic water bottles in the ocean. This class allowed me to fully educate myself on a social issue and take action to make a positive change. I gave a persuasive speech on the harms of disposable plastic water bottles in my Public Speaking class and encouraged everyone to start using reusable water bottles and reject plastic water bottles when they are offered them. I then typed my speech out, posted it on my blog, and shared the link on Facebook. I really do believe that as humans, we need to take better care of the Earth. This class has allowed me to speak out and create a positive change for the environment. I also plan on taking the information I have learned about other social problems in class, and sharing that knowledge with my peers.soc.jpg.


Saving the Environment, One Step At A Time

We leave the home and go to sporting events or meetings and have the option to purchase or take bottled water with us. We go to the grocery store and see cases of plastic containing the beverage as we maneuver our way through the store, sometimes even picking a case up and buying it. When I was in high school, I took a new plastic water bottle to school with me every day. I would pull it out of my lunch box, drink it, refill it for cheerleading practice, and repeat the cycle the next day. When I came to college, I realized I was not being effective with my money and I was also hurting the environment. Although many of us have been drinking out of plastic water bottles at sporting events, in class, at meetings, and at home since we were little kids, I firmly believe that plastic water bottles are harmful in a few different ways; simply buying a reusable bottle is much better.

Plastic water bottles are harmful to our pockets and our oceans. According to Anthony Giorgianni, people can spend up to 700 times more buying plastic water bottles as opposed to drinking tap water. He calculated that it costs 1.3 tenths of a cent to fill up a 16.9 ounce water bottle in New York City, while it costs 95 cents to buy an individual plastic water bottle (the cost is based on after receiving the bottle deposit back). If someone were to fill up a 16.9 ounce water bottle once a day for a year in New York City, at the end of the year they would have paid 48 cents for water. If someone were to drink one store-bought plastic water bottle every day for a year, they would end up paying $346 for water. Think about it. People tend to drink more than 16.9 ounces in a day. A person who pays $10 a year for tap water would spend that much on 10 individually bought water bottles. Plastic water bottles are not just expensive, they are also harmful to the environment.


According to the Science of The Total Environment, industrial activities, fishing activities, and the general population produce macro plastics, such as water bottles, that end up in the ocean. The plastics sink, fragment, and degrade in the water causing issues for marine life when ingested; the chemicals in plastic travel along the food chain. An example of movement throughout the food chain is when crayfish ingest fragmented pieces of plastic. The Plastic-Water-Bottles-Seabed-Pollution-300x199chemicals travel from crayfish that are eaten by larger fishes to whales. The International Union for Conservation of Nature says that plastic debris in the ocean have major environmental impacts on marine animals, causing them to suffocate, become tangled, cause reproductive issues, and indigestion. In addition, chemical additives in plastics spread throughout the food chain, as seen with the crayfish example, effecting more than just the original animal to ingest the plastic.

A simple step in improving our bank accounts and the environment would be to buy a reusable water bottle. It would be a one-time purchase that you will have until it breaks or lose it. It would have the same convenience as a disposable plastic water bottle, only you would not have to make multiple purchases. They are better for the environment because they are not thrown away after every single use, therefore not making their way to the ocean.

Given the advantages, it is more useful for people to buy reusable water bottles because it will benefit their pockets and the environment. I encourage you to share this information with your friends and family, and hopefully stop supporting bottled water. I challenge you to turn down a plastic water bottle next time you are offered one, and remember that you are making a positive impact on the environment.