Our Plastic Lifestyle

My family went plastic bag-less a year ago, we purchased some great cloth and “recycled” plastic bags, and they make shopping and carrying our groceries much easier.  The other day while I’m checking out and ready to pay, I looked at the groceries and realized, almost everything I bought was encased in some kind of plastic wrap, container, or film.  “How hypocritical is that,” I said to the clerk.  She asked what I meant – “I’m going out of my way to not use plastic bags, yet damn near everything I just purchased is a throw away item made of plastic.”  She looked at me with a blank stare and said – “you can recycle plastic.”  I took my receipt and left the store.

Can you recycle plastic?  Nope, you can’t.  As far as I’m aware, no plastic milk jug has ever been made into another plastic milk jug.  No Coke litter bottles have been made into another Coke bottle.  The great myth of plastic recycling is so pervasive in our society that we all fall victim to it.  I dare any one to find a manufacturer who takes curbside plastic and makes the exact same item from that item.  Plastic can be downcycled in to other uses – like yarns, or park benches, but very little is.

The EPA’s web site is filled with information about plastic – all provided by the American Plastic Council and American Chemistry – its parent company. Glowing reports of plastic “recycling” on the rise permeate the web site, “4 billion pounds was “recycled” last year alone they gloat.  Sounds like a lot, its not.  They produced 28 billion TONS last year and 27 billion tons made it to the landfills.  Remember there are 2,000 pounds per ton – I’ll let you do the math.  So why does the US Governmentallow a special interest like American Chemistry to post their propaganda on their site?  Simple, the EPA doesn’t have the time and money to do the research themselves.  The FDA does the same, allows companies to submit their own “research” to substantiate their claims.  So the plastic recycling myth continues. Most of this recycling myth is perpetuated by the virgin plastic manufacturers.  They aren’t interested in finding solution to re-using what they make, curbside plastic is contaminated, and can’t be made pure enough for their uses.  They place a cleaver little “recycle” symbol on everything made – but its actually a system for letting those in the plastic industry know what chemicals are used in its manufacture – like fire retardants, hardeners, softeners and other chemicals.

I encourage you to search this yourself, plug in plastic recycling and you’ll get the usual propoganda from American Chemistry, plus a whole lot of concerned people like myself wondering about the Plastic Lifestyle we lead.

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One Response to Our Plastic Lifestyle

  1. polythenepam says:

    Dont people look? Dont need stats to see at all those bottle washed up on the beach, the plastic bags in trees and the bottlecaps cut out of animals stomachs. Visual pollution alone plastic is pretty awful. Thats why I boycott plastic and source biodegradable alternatives – try http://www.plasticisrubbish.wordpress.com for first hand scientific reports, pictures of dead animals and what plastic I have given up.

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