Remember days before plastic? What problems might plastic cause in the environment?
|Can you remember your grandmother wrapping items to go in the refrigerator with wax paper in the days before plastic wrap? Plastic wrap and thousands of conveniences including our plastic credit, debit and gift cards have developed since NASA sought materials suitable for outer space. We have plastic toothbrush handles (I vaguely remember the handles once were made of wood), sandwich bags, myriads of storage containers in various forms and sizes, window coverings to help with insulation where there are no storm windows, plastic drop cloths for painting, plastic lawn furniture, plastic bottles, and the list could go on and on. I remember one company’s motto that it gave us better things for better living through chemistry. It is true that all these plastic items are wonderful. Most are also inexpensive. I think I read somewhere that one basic ingredient in plastic production is sand.
I also remember a favorite science teacher saying that every good thing can have a bad side. I think she was talking about ecology and the effects that humans have on the environment.
The human being is so resourceful and inventive – ever searching for better ways to do things. So many technological advances and inventions can boggle the mind. I still marvel at the original personal computer, the Internet, and cell phones. Many of their parts are made of plastic.
On the down side, I have heard or read about the plastic six-pack holders being found around the necks of dolphins, turtles or fish. That is a tragic thing for an animal and environmentalists remind us to dispose of these properly.
Recently I read a report from Greenpeace, an environmental group that has been cited for exaggeration and extreme actions in some cases, that there is a vast “vortex of plastic debris” in the Pacific Ocean near the Hawaiian Islands. Comments posted about the article ranged from “We’ve got to do something now!” to “Knowing Greenpeace, it’s probably just a few plastic bottles and they claim it’s the size of Texas.”
It is a fact that plastic does not decompose well. The report stated that animals in the sea eat the plastic. I know they will because I have dogs who have chewed up their plastic feeding bowls and eaten some of it, causing me to get them stainless steel bowls. I don’t think plastic is good food for any creature. Fish have been found with plastic in their stomachs. Birds reportedly starved because their stomachs were filled with plastic and they couldn’t get enough nutrition. Environmental groups are warning us.
Some call the environmental groups alarmists. But I can’t help thinking about some formerly-science-fiction ideas that have come to pass such as rockets to the moon. The sets of some futuristic movies show particularly bleak and barren landscapes. This is not a world I want to imagine. Give me trees, plants and animals.
I plan to make sure I recycle everything recyclable as much as possible. When they ask if I want paper or plastic, I will probably still take plastic. However, I will place unused plastic bags in the recycling bins. Please recycle with me.