Writing Challenge 2 (250 Words)


In this lesson, we’ll be writing a short essay (with a minimum of 250 words). The writing prompt is one that you might on an English proficiency test such as the IELTS writing test (task 2):

Question: Should your city ban the use of plastic bags? Discuss both sides and give your opinion.

If you would like to practice your own writing, make sure you complete a draft before you look at the examples below.

First Draft

Our writer has decided to argue that plastic bans should not be banned. The rough draft nicely comments on both sides of the issue. However, the arguments for using plastic bags can be strengthened. In addition, the writing requires significant editing. Click on the underlined words and phrases for tips and suggestions:

Plastic base products like bags have undeniable effects in our life. These effects are positive and negative at the same time. The negative impact of these products has caused some worrisome among scientists and environmentalist activists in a way some of them believe they plastic bags should be banned in cities while the former opinion has some opponents.

People who believe the plastic bags should be eliminated in the cycle of urban life have some reasons. To begin with, these goods are serious threat to the environment. In fact, they change to a long time remaining pollution which cause damages to the nature. For example, most of us can remember documentaries showing animals got stuck in the wastes in the sea such as fishes or turtles. Moreover, the process of production of these commodities is another part which impacts the environment, from the material which is wasted to make these bags to the energy wasted to operate these cycle of production. For instance, to be built, different chemical hazards emitted toxic gases and different material such as crude oil should be extracted and get consumed.

On the other hand, people who disagree with the former group has their own justifications. Firstly, by banning these products all people working in this industry lose their job. Indeed, to make a plastic bag a group of different workers are needed and so they will lose their occupation by banning the plastic bags. Furthermore, plastic bags have some qualities which make it unreplaceable by other products. Firstly, they are cheap, which makes them a suitable choice for packing. Secondly, they are waterproof and light. The mentioned characteristics make plastic bags unique in the purposes they are used.

In conclusion, there are opposing views about the banning plastic bags. I am personally of the opinion that if we find a proper replacement for plastic bags, the benefits of banning them outweigh the benefits of continuing their use.

Revised Draft

Our second draft retains the argument, but uses more direct and concrete language. We also want the reader to know our thesis right from the start. The result is an essay that flows smoothly and naturally.

Everyone knows that plastic bags are bad for the environment. The real question is what to do about this problem. If my city wanted to forbid the use of plastic bags, I would be opposed to an outright ban. I think a better approach is to encourage and incentivize people to minimize the use of plastic products.

Plastic bags do great damage to the natural world, and their use should be limited. We’ve all seen documentaries showing fish or turtles getting trapped in plastic waste. Indeed, I am horrified when I read stories of washed-up sharks with stomachs full of garbage. In addition, the production of plastic bags may also lead to increased pollution. I am not an expert on chemical hazards or toxic gases, but I imagine that the factories that produce these bags are not eco-friendly. It therefore seems unconscionable to use a plastic bag a single time and then throw it away.

On the other hand, a complete ban may do more harm than good. Not only will workers lose their jobs, but plastic bags have qualities that make them difficult to replace with other products. Plastic bags are great for packing, as they are waterproof and light. We will still need plastic bags for storing things and for holding waste (even dog poop!). If people are unable to reuse plastic shopping bags, they will inevitably buy their bags, but these tend to be thicker and so require even more plastic. In addition, the production of paper bags (a common replacement) is even more energy intensive, and may do more damage to the environment.

The best solution, then, is not to ban plastic bags but to encourage people from using them recklessly. When stores charge a small fee per plastic bags, customers adapt by bring cloth bags or by using fewer bags. Such small changes are better for the environment and still allow people to use plastic bags when necessary.

If you read just the first sentence of each paragraph, you’ll note how clearly the argument is organized. In many ways revising is about simplifying our language, making it less abstract and wordy. Take your time developing your point and don’t cram too much into one sentence.


My thanks to ESL student Reza for permission to share his first draft.