Greener Essays – Part 2 – Plastic

When we first started learning more about the world, for example what is wrong with the food or how dangerous plastic is, my mind was whirling. I decided to type out everything in my own words, which became these ‘essays’, which I scrapbooked and included in our family photo album to chart the changes we were making in our life.
Since I’m on vacation this week with my in-laws, I thought it would be a good time to post all my essays from last year, showing what we learned, and how we’ve shaped our lives around this information to be the people we are this year.
So here is Part Two of the Six Part series…

Plastic, June 2012
One scientist who has done extensive research on chemicals in plastic insists that “no plastic is safe”, none of it. NONE AT ALL. From the documentaries on plastic that we watched I learned that plastic comes from oil. It makes countless people who live near these plastic factories sick from the fumes, sad, but thru that part of the movie, I’m thinking “WHEW, dodged that bullet” – but actually, no. Every plastic item starts with that “plastic smell”, and when we smell it, we are literally breathing in chemicals through our mouth and nose. On top of that we typically heat up plastic – items in the microwave and dishwasher, plastic bottles in the trunk, tents in the sun – and all scientists agree that, when heated, the compounds in the plastic are released, to be absorbed into the air we breathe, absorbed into our skin by contact, and absorbed into the food we are cooking – Eeek!! Scary! Now wait a minute, chemical companies have been telling us for years that their chemical are safe, what exactly do these chemicals do to us? Well, the studies show that the plastic releases estrogen hormones, which send signals to the brain, that is why girls are starting puberty too soon, and it’s also shown to cause breast cancer and influence other cancer causing cells in the body. The chemical causing all this mayhem? BPA. I’d heard about BPA, but I’d heard that it was taken out of baby bottles, so, like yay right? Wrong again, the toxicity of plastic is inescapable. Not only is there still BPA in all the other plastics that are not baby bottles, but a study published in Environmental Health confirms that “hormone-disrupting chemicals leach from almost all plastics, even BPA-free plastics.” Geez, cuz that’s what I wanted to hear. Time to get plastic out of the house. I sewed up about 20 reusable shopping bags, and ten bulk food bags. We stopped using bottled water immediately, we used up what canned food we had, and refused to buy more with the plastic linings. We headed to goodwill where we got ceramic dishes and glass drinking glasses. Out went the plastic, all of it that was not tied down as it were, we piled it up to take a picture, and then what didn’t sell on craigslist we donated to the library’s thrift store. We relented, and kept a few things, like the vacuum and the fans. We felt a lot of relief getting all of that out of the house, we wanted to do more, but our attention turned to our disastrously unhealthy food…

Plastic Pollution, June 2012
As I hurried and scurried to get plastic out of my home, I also reflected on what plastic is doing to our bigger collective home. Without a functioning earth we will all die out as a species. Like rebellious teenagers we are putting too much pressure on our mother earth, and when we leave, our mother will sigh with relief, renew herself, and continue living without us. She loves her children, but cannot stop us from our self-destructive behavior. In the creation, consumption, and castoff of plastics around the globe we are polluting the only habitable planet that we have. Plastic I’ve learned is made from oil, a substance that is meant to last for thousands of years, and so it will. Think of a plastic fork – it is made of oil, and then we use it for several minutes, then we toss it in the trash. Don’t be tempted to wash the fork for re-use, that would release the chemicals that cause cancer – it is only meant to be a One Use Item. That oil fork, will last for years, that one fork will NEVER really be gone. It was not made from air that can be returned to air, it was not made from water that can return to water, it was not made from plants that can return to the soil to make more plants – it is oil that has been chemically changed into a hard substance. So where does the fork go? If we are lucky it goes to a landfill to be incinerated, the incinerated product is then buried in the earth where it leaks its terrible chemicals into the soil, even “recycled” plastic creates chemical waste that is also buried the same way, but what is worse is that most plastic ends up in the ocean. The ocean is big, the ocean can take it, right? Nope, every year, Americans throw away enough plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times. That is just one year, and that is ONLY plastic silverware. Every year, Americans use approximately one billion shopping bags, and plastic bags do not biodegrade. Light breaks them down into smaller and smaller particles that contaminate the soil, and stay in our oceans. This is what our example fork will be, a few small pieces of plastic particles, called plastic soup, being eaten by the ocean’s fish, birds, and mammals. Even whales eat the plastic! When the plastic in their bellies kills them, it will be returned to ocean where it can continue its deadly killing spree… …or even worse, it was eaten by a fish that ends up on our plate. As we eat our fish sticks, or fish fillet – we are eating our own plastic waste.

We need to all change our lifestyles, to consume less plastic, I love this: “Some plastic is just pointless. A straw? Would it kill you to let your lips touch the glass?”

The Scrapbook Pages:

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