Its time to review the basics….
The term plastic embraces a wide range of synthetic polymers that are used to make just about everything. Some products can be easily recognised as “plastic” others are not so obvious.
Carrier bags? Plastic! Gel ink – what??
Or the plastic in a product is not apparent. Who knew that drink cans were lined with plastic?
Or is that just me? For sure when I started my plastic boycott I knew very little about plastic. I started it in the response to the ever-increasing amounts of plastic trash I saw littering the environment, the water bottles washed up on the shore, the carrier bags tangled in the trees and the crisp packets glinting in the hedgerows.
I knew they were plastic, and that plastic was a synthetic substance that didn’t biodegrade. I could see quite clearly that rubbish was increasing exponentially, and that the environment was suffering as a result.
But was I part of the problem? Well yes.
Back in October 2006 I decided to monitor how much of the stuff I actually “used”. I began saving all the disposable plastic that passed through my hands. A sobering 7 days later and I was running out of cupboard space. Want to see my rubbish? Have a look in my bin .
It shocked me and I decided then to stop creating plastic rubbish – it was a my response to plastic pollution. And Village Boy agreed except when it came to Pringles. Oh he knew it was wrong but…. that’s another story. I started the blog to track my progress.
Now, a few years on, we know there is far more to plastic then the rubbish that meets the eye. We know that plastic is ….
- Any of various organic compounds produced by polymerization, capable of being molded, extruded, cast into various shapes and films, or drawn into filaments used as textile fibers.
To paraphrase, plastic is a man-made, synthetic polymer derived from a naturally occurring material. Currently most polymers are derived from crude oil, (though they can also be derived from plants). These man-made polymers are then used to make everything from fabrics to fluid gels to rigid molded products.
Polyurethanes for example; a huge family of man-made polymers used to make the hard plastic soles of shoes, foam in chairs, and varnish; products with seemingly nothing in common.
In short, the definition of plastic is considerably broader then I first realised, and involves a good deal more than sweet wrappers.
Plastic is everywhere and in everything. You might be wearing cotton but I will bet you anything the thread used to sew your clothes is man-made, (natural cotton is not very good to sew with). As for the elastic, buttons and velcro – all synthetic. Your table is wood but the varnish is plastic… and so on.
Plastic is an integral part of our lives and has become so without our being aware of it. It is a great product but there is a downside. We really need to question our relationship with plastic – and not just to stop the rubbish mounting up
Find out more about the problems with plastic here