Friday, May 25, 2012

THE PRICE WE PAY FOR PLASTIC

Plastic ends up as litter that fouls the landscape, pollutes the ocean, kills thousands of marine mammals every year and is collecting in our oceans at alarm rates every year. Mans creation is discarded into the marine world with reckless abandon. We are  building another huge tragedy.

In time, another kind of pollution will begin as t the plastic into microscopic particles  like polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs that will turn our oceans into toxic cesspools paving the road to a dead planet.

I read a speech about the impact of plastic on the environment yesterday. Susan Freinkel, the author of Plastic: A Toxic Love Story spoke to the Long Now Foundation in San Fransisco.

One of the points made was that in all of the exploration of the wreck of the Titanic, no plastic has been recovered. The reason for this, there was very little plastic in 1912. The disposable society had not arrived. The question being asked by the speaker was, how do we get the benefits of plastic's amazing durability while reducing the harm from its convenient disposability?

 There have always been "natural polymers" such as amber, ivory, tortoiseshell and horn.In fact, the celluloid was invented as a substitute to ivory.  The Hyatt brothers were attempting to develop a substitute for the ivory billiard ball and in so doing came up with a process for manufacturers using a nitrate cellulose composition. Celluloid was patented in 1870 and was used for dental plates for false teeth

 PVC was registered in 1914. Cellophane came shortly after. The big advancement, allowing for mass manufacturing came in the 1930's when manufacturers learnt how to produce plastics from petroleum. This led to injection molding, assembly line production and the lowering of the price of production. The result drastically lowered prices and mass production. 

It is amazing to me that in 100 years how much damage a man made product has caused the planet. The disposable society, with no consideration for the future has saddled future generations with an incredible mess. A mess that threatens to toxify the ocean, killing marine life and depriving the world of a renewable source of food.

Why have we chosen to to ignore the evidence that is plain sight?  These chemicals are transforming our bodies and minds and destroying the planet.

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