P.S. on Plastics

This is an addendum to my blog post from earlier today, on “Freeing Ourselves of Disposable Plastics.”

As for why I am making a separate “P.S.” post rather than just tacking this on to that post, it’s because a toolbox menu suddenly disappeared from that post and I cannot figure out how to get it back, making it inordinately difficult to edit that post. (And, regarding this perverse-but-at-least-simple work-around, see my more recent post from earlier today, “Hidden Footprint: Navigating Technical Glitches.)

Anyway! Did you know that plastics were originally made of plant matter? And still are, in some cases. And can be again to a greater degree, or even in a direction never before imagined.

Consider our response to “invasive weeds.” We spend so much time, money, and fossil fuel “managing” them with chemicals and mechanized equipment, and in the process we poison the land, water, and all living creatures. And in the end we have something we call “trash” or “waste” — another “problem” that has to be dealt with. And, the “invasive weeds” are never fully eliminated and continue to be an expensive problem.

When instead, maybe those “invasive” plants could be raw materials for producing useful things: containers; plastic wrap (that would go back into the earth when no longer needed).

Of course, some “invasive” grasses and plants could also be used more directly: as fiber (for baskets, cloth, window shades, and so on); roof thatching materials; and who knows what else! As fuel for heating. Just to name a couple things off the top of my head.

It recently crossed my mind that the “red tide” seaweed and blue-green algae that are currently causing wildlife die-offs and human discomfort on our Florida coastlines could be turned from an eco hazard to a useful material in similar fashion. I have been hearing for awhile now about plastics made from algae.

But back to the original point of this post: I wanted to share with you this article from BBC, How To Solve the Plastic Packaging Paradox. “Today, plastic packaging has a bad (w)rap. But the first commercially viable version of the now ubiquitous material – cellophane – was conceived in a more innocent age, before anyone worried about plastic in landfill, or the sea, or the food chain.”

The article raises some essential points that we have to factor in to the equation as we endeavor to free ourselves of the harmful aspects of single-use plastic.

For example, a cloth bag might end up not justifying the footprint it took to make it! (One way I deal with that is take used cloth bags that would otherwise get thrown away; another is to make bags out of old clothing.) And the harm of plastic wrap might be outweighed by the tonnage of veggies that are, with wrap, kept from going bad before they can be eaten. (Regarding that latter, my personal response is to buy locally grown veggies or grow them myself. Much less spoilage.)

And finally, I want to “wrap” this post up with a heartfelt “thank you” to my regular readers who send me valuable links and help me ferret out my typos! Big hugs Ro, L.S., and other deep-green allies who are kind and patient enough to navigate this blog.