Archive for July, 2009

It seems like everywhere you look, there’s plastic. Plastic bottles, plastic toys, plastic bags – there’s even a garbage patch of plastic bottles twice the size of Texas floating in the north Pacific Ocean (if that’s not a sign that we suck, I don’t know what is). It lines the shelves of all of our grocery stores, pharmacies, and big box operations. We seem to be obsessed with it, which strikes me as odd in a world trying to go green. I see many companies claiming to be eco-friendly or environmental with plastic packaging. This claim is a little hard to swallow. How does something that sits in a landfill for eons get an eco-friendly label?

  • Plastic is a huge health concern. It leeches into products and exposes our bodies to hormone-disrupting chemicals like bisphenol-A (BPA) and pthalates, which may lead to breast cancer, prostate cancer and sexual development issues in babies.
  • Contrary to popular belief and the “feel goods” we get when we throw a plastic bottle in the ol’ blue box, plastic does not get recycled – it gets downcycled, meaning it gets turned into a different product such as fabric or flooring. The demand for these secondary products is lower than our use of plastics so the majority (76%) of these bottles end up in the landfill after all – for hundreds to thousands of years.
  • Plastic comes from petroleum, a dwindling non-renewable resource that has caused enormous amounts of conflict and environmental degradation all over the world.
  • Plastic is polluting our oceans and destroying marine life by choking and trapping them. It is estimated that 100 million marine mammals and turtles in the north Pacific Ocean are killed every year by plastic – not to mention the plastic bottle island from hell.
  • Plastic pollutes in every way imaginable, from depleting the ozone layer to changing DNA structure in cows. It’s evil.

The bottom line is that plastic is NOT eco-friendly – in fact it’s the opposite, it’s an eco-enemy (I just made that word up). Beware of greenwashers and the plastic industry convincing you otherwise. Do what you can to avoid it by toting reusable shopping bags, choosing products packaged in glass, drinking from stainless steel containers, and buying wooden toys (they look way better in your house anyway).  Also, if you catch anyone drinking bottled water, you should beat them.

Resources: sierraclub.org, greenpeace.org, ecologycenter.org, earth911.com

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