My initial thought was: Why? It seems a bit extreme. What’s so bad about plastic? OK, so the creation of plastics relies heavily on the oil industry, but provided we don’t over-rely on it, and recycle regularly, what’s the issue?
By the end of the month, I’d changed my mind. Here’s why:
1) Apparently there are about 9 “gyres” or currents circling the world’s oceans. In one of the blog entries, she highlights the cross-Pacific journey made by Dr Marcus Eriksen and film-maker Joel Paschal in a boat made from junk. The photo you see above is of the plastic “soup” that fills these gyres, and all the gyres are thought to be in a similar condition. These plastics are reckoned to have been through marine life about 9 times now, and are pretty much part of the food chain. I did see a web page with an example of a fish cut open, with 14 pieces of undigested plastic in its stomach, and a whole report on it. Unfortunately I can’t find the link.
2) The amount of things that are made from plastic now and don’t need to be are insane. Those facial scrubs that have tiny stones in them? Many of them have replaced the stones with plastic beads. Plastic is used to contain just about everything, where paper and card used to do just fine. Years ago, strawberries (for example) used to be a luxury, and came packed in card punnets. Now for two weeks every year, the country is awash with strawberries, all packed into plastic punnets. That’s just two examples, there are many others I could point to, but don’t have the space here.
3) Plastics leech into our food, especially from what’s known as BPA. I’m no chemist, but apparently under certain conditions, plastic will leech toxic chemicals into foods as it breaks down, especially fatty food (remember the scare about wrapping cheese in clingfilm a few years ago?) Plastic bottles of mineral water are designed for SINGLE USE only, so re-using them to carry water is not great. About the best thing, if you want to take water with you, is a stainless steel canteen favoured by campers.
I honestly don’t know how to deal with this one. A part of of me thinks you can’t avoid plastics altogether, although my current favourite plastic-less blogger, Fake Plastic Fish, seems to do just that pretty well. But at another level, I recognise that the current level of plastic usage is unsustainable, and something needs to be done urgently, as current re-cycling methods are clearly not enough to stop plastic getting into the food chain.