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Plastic, Plastic Everywhere!

100’s of years ago, there were no plastic bottles to recycle, no campaigns to tell us to recycle them and common sense reusing was often out of necessity. Now we think we are doing the environment a favor if we make an effort to recycle our paper and aluminum cans.

While recycling is of course a modern day must, we have to ask if we truly need to have so much stuff that needs to be recycled in the first place.

According to a survey on PowerSourceOnline, among the technological gadgets that are not used but piled up in our homes anyway includes cell phones, game consoles, digital cameras and computers. Cell phones rank the highest on the list, with an approximation of about 40 million lying around.

This toss-aside culture has grown over the years, along with the consequences.

Cell phones in landfill

Image source: theatlantic.com

In fact, it seems instead of focusing on ways to create things with durability and quality, the tendency has often been to churn out mass produced objects that aren’t meant to last and only add to the false notion that they must be continually replaced. This wonderful marketing ploy has led to major profit for corporations, but added to the dispensable behaviors which then add to the mounting waste.

The inception of disposable plastics for home use is another example of this throwaway methodology. Chemist Hermann Staudinger discovered in 1922 that plastics were held together by superpolymers, or tiny, interwoven particles (Mindfully.org).

This realization led to many new types of plastics that could be configured into scores of items.

It was found that even fibers could be produced from plastics, and the invention of nylon sent a surge in production with a variety of things that could be made with it. It was an easy to clean and affordable choice for many. Another offering that was meant to make life easier, and make companies large revenues at the same time, was bottled water. In 1960 polyvinyl chloride, or PVC plastic, was used to form bottles for holding mineral water.

A recount entitled A Brief History of Plastic shows how they effortlessly crept into the mainstream, and how the aftermath of this has lent to disastrous plastic accumulations in landfills worldwide.

Plastic, Plastic Everywhere!

Image source: banthebottle.net

As plastic production boomed in the U.S., environmental awareness surged around 1970 and began to shed light on what the penalties were for creating a plastic obsessed society. However, marketing ventures took over, and plastics went on to acclaim their ever popular seat with the introduction of the plastic soda bottle in 1975, which was developed by Daniel C. Wyeth and made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

This took attention away from reusing glass containers and drew more customers in to the toss away bottle. By the end of the 1980’s nearly all reusable beverage container companies, like those that made glass milk bottles, were out of business. Also, food costs claimed a new addition to attribute their rising costs to – increased plastic packaging.

All of this plastic fabrication has obviously led to some ill-fated factors that are not at all temporary.

The amount of toxic chemicals used in plastic production, combined with the effects of plastic that is left to lie around in landfills or littered about, has forever changed the world since its inception. The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency offered  a study which indicated that manufacturing with PET, which is thought to be of a lesser toxicity that others, creates 100 times the polluted output than creating similar items with glass instead of plastics.

Increased pollution and detrimental health issues have been caused from the plastic industry alone. Though plastics may be necessary for some aspects, for instance in the medical fields, what is probably not needed are more plastic-y throw-away trinkets, more disposable beverage containers and surplus packaging which is made from sometimes unregulated compounds which may leak into the food it is supposed to be covering and protecting.

Looking back at certain aspects of industrialized history has unveiled a portion of human nature that seemingly desires to develop easier ways of doing things. While at times for adaptation’s sake, the need to have one more plastic water bottle and then recycle it is not an adaptation, but a selfish creation of convenience.

Although many things about the environment and our treatment of it are in fact better today than years ago, the age old message to live more connected with nature has not been a disposable lesson, and one that needs revisited.

Plastic, Plastic Everywhere!

Image source: wikipedia.org

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