Breaking our addiction to plastic everything

by Catherine Haug, February 9, 2013

Ever since I learned how to make plastic in college organic chemistry class; ever since Dustin Hoffman’s Benjamin was advised , “One word:…Plastics” in The Graduate, I’ve been cautious about my use of, and exposure to plastic. It hasn’t been easy. Plastics are everywhere, and very beguiling.

They are in our carpets and rugs; our toothbrushes; shopping bags; food storage containers and wrap; food; blankets, sheets, and towels; purses, wallets, backpacks, lunch boxes; grocery bags; milk jugs, pop bottles, liquor bottles; dishes and drinking glasses; eyewear; wigs; yard tools, lawn mowers, leaf blowers; automobiles; shoes and boots; clothing and decorator fabric; furniture; building materials; water and sewer pipes; appliances; wall paint; picnic supplies; children’s toys; bicycles; sewing machines and supplies; thread, yarn, string, rope; electrical wiring; playground equipment; landscaping materials. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

It seems we cannot do without them. But……life as we know it cannot last much longer, with them. They pollute our oceans; kill our seafood and disrupt the sea food chain. They pollute our groundwater and the soil that grows our foods. They disrupt our hormones – especially in the womb – so that many children will grow up to be sterile. They affect gene expression.

Plastics require a lot of energy – fossil fuel energy – to be made from precious petroleum or foods like corn and soy. There is only so much fossil fuels on the planet, and plastics are chewing up more than half of our annual fuel consumption, when you consider the raw materials and fuels to make them, fuels to transport them, fuels to haul them to the dump and bury them there.

Addicted to Plastic (Documentary)

View the free 90-minute film on YouTube: Addicted To Plastic- Documentary.

Then read on for some suggestions to minimize our use of plastics. And send me your reuse/repurpose plastic ideas for publication on this website.

Suggestions to minimize our use of plastics

The first step is always to reduce our use of plastics.

  • Return to glass and ceramic dinnerware and drinking containers;
  • Make your own laundry soap (instead of buying liquid detergents in plastic jugs;
  • Bring your own shopping bags made from natural fibers to the grocery store or mall;
  • Bring your own drinking glass or mug to the coffee kiosk;
  • Refill glass bottles for portable drinking water, rather than buying bottled water;
  • When dining out, bring your own leftover containers, just in case;
  • Store foods in your fridge and freezer in glass jars and glass storage containers;
  • Buy clothing made from natural fibers like cotton, wool, silk;
  • Ask your local dairy to sell milk, cream in returnable glass bottles with a deposit;
  • Lobby your state legislature to place a deposit on beverage containers.

The second step is reuse and repurpose what we already have so that more is not needed. However, recycling is not really a good choice for plastics because making ‘new’ things from recycled plastic requires the burning of more fuels, not only to transport the recycled items to a factory, but also to power the mechanical work and chemical reactions at the factory. Here are some reuse & repurpose suggestions for plastics. Make your own:

Share your ideas

I’m sure you can think of more ways to reduce, reuse, repurpose plastics; send me your suggestions and I’ll include them in the ‘kitchen hints’ or create a new category of ‘repurpose plastics hints’.


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