Thursday, April 23, 2009

When you hold plastic, you hold eternity in your hand

I adapted that from someone else talking about styrofoam, but the same holds true for plastic. This post was going to be my Earth Day post, but I got home after choir practice late last night, and I was just too beat to blog! I've been doing a lot of serious thinking about all the plastic in our lives lately. Think about all the plastic around you. When you go to the store, notice every ounce of plastic on the shelves, in the produce section, the clam shell packaging, the plastic bags. Look at trash cans outside of stores when you walk by and notice all the plastic trash in there. Look at all the plastic packaging every time you buy ANYTHING. I was so thrilled when we found packages of organic underwear for the girls at Target that were in recyclable cardboard packaging! I'll bet you can't look around your room or kitchen for five seconds without finding multitudes of plastic. Now, think about this: nearly every ounce of plastic that has EVER been made is still in existence. We throw it away or recycle it and forget about it, don't we? Except for a small amount that has been incinerated (creating outrageously toxic gas), every single tiny piece of plastic that has ever been made is still out there - somewhere.

Where does it end up? Landfills? Yes. In our water supply? Yes. In our oceans? This is perhaps the creepiest yes of all. I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't know this next little tidbit - I didn't until recently. Did you know there is a floating island of plastic in the Pacific Ocean that is TWICE THE SIZE OF TEXAS??? Yes, that's right - twice the size of Texas. There are similar islands in all oceans around the world. Wall-E doesn't seem quite so funny now, does it?

Now we come to - "the plastic conundrum." Can we just cut plastic out of our lives? Should we? My dear friend and I were discussing the plastic versus glass argument last night. Plastic is marketed to parents as the "safer" choice. You drop it on the floor, and it doesn't break! Wow - it's like magic. (Although that Costco size plastic jar of salsa that I dropped a few months back managed to shatter well enough sending mounds of cantina smelling gooey-ness everywhere.) The more I think about it though, I have to admit that I am beginning to think that a possible trip to the doctor for stitches isn't as big a risk as all the chemicals floating around in our environment and being ingested in our bodies on a daily basis. Even recycling plastic, while it helps, does not end the problem. Glass can be recycled very efficiently. A glass bottle can be recycled back into a glass bottle. A plastic bottle cannot be recycled back into a plastic bottle - part of it can be used for a new plastic bottle. Virgin plastic has to be used in all plastics that are used to hold products for human consumption.

I don't know the answer to "the plastic conundrum," but I do know that it's been weighing on my mind heavily. We will be working hard to reduce our plastic consumption in this household. You'll probably see little updates about how our "plastic diet" is going. Until then, if you want to read about the island of plastic - click this link:Plastic Ocean. Happy belated Earth Day!

1 comment:

mom said...

You know my sweetheart that plastic recycled can be used for highways and for rooftops and for a lot of other things. I don't like plastic much but it has a part of this recycling thing that is used for other things that don't go right into the earth but can be reused also. Just a thought!