Scuttlebutt: Plastic

Scuttlebutt: Plastic

     I recently read a letter to the editor that warmed my heart.  A woman wrote to suggest that people reconsider the use of garbage can liners as a way to reduce plastic pollution.  Soul sister!  This is a subject that I have wanted to write about for many years, but I haven't,  assuming that my readers would consider me a brain-dead Don Quixote waving at windmills.  I will proudly admit that there may be a kernel of truth in that.  Nevertheless, it is clear that the plastics industry has done an outstanding job of convincing most people that garbage bags are an indispensable part of life.  Some 309 million Americans use them- continuously, loyally, and without a second thought.  

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     Still, plastics pollution has managed to sneak into the news, in spite of the salacious news coming out of Washington on a daily basis.  The plastics industry pumped out 113 billion pounds of plastic resin in 2017.  That is roughly the weight of all humans on the planet.  In reading plastic statistics (try that for a lovely late summer afternoon) one finds some black humor amongst the dizzying numbers.  For example, the amount of plastic film and wrap produced annually could shrink-wrap the entire state of Texas.  I figured out  we could do Rhode Island in 2 days.

     Still, plastics pollution has managed to sneak into the news, in spite of the salacious news coming out of Washington on a daily basis.  The plastics industry pumped out 113 billion pounds of plastic resin in 2017.  That is roughly the weight of all humans on the planet.  In reading plastic statistics (try that for a lovely late summer afternoon) one finds some black humor amongst the dizzying numbers.  For example, the amount of plastic film and wrap produced annually could shrink-wrap the entire state of Texas.  I figured out  we could do Rhode Island in 2 days.

     Still, plastics pollution has managed to sneak into the news, in spite of the salacious news coming out of Washington on a daily basis.  The plastics industry pumped out 113 billion pounds of plastic resin in 2017.  That is roughly the weight of all humans on the planet.  In reading plastic statistics (try that for a lovely late summer afternoon) one finds some black humor amongst the dizzying numbers.  For example, the amount of plastic film and wrap produced annually could shrink-wrap the entire state of Texas.  I figured out  we could do Rhode Island in 2 days.

     Still, plastics pollution has managed to sneak into the news, in spite of the salacious news coming out of Washington on a daily basis.  The plastics industry pumped out 113 billion pounds of plastic resin in 2017.  That is roughly the weight of all humans on the planet.  In reading plastic statistics (try that for a lovely late summer afternoon) one finds some black humor amongst the dizzying numbers.  For example, the amount of plastic film and wrap produced annually could shrink-wrap the entire state of Texas.  I figured out  we could do Rhode Island in 2 days.

     Still, plastics pollution has managed to sneak into the news, in spite of the salacious news coming out of Washington on a daily basis.  The plastics industry pumped out 113 billion pounds of plastic resin in 2017.  That is roughly the weight of all humans on the planet.  In reading plastic statistics (try that for a lovely late summer afternoon) one finds some black humor amongst the dizzying numbers.  For example, the amount of plastic film and wrap produced annually could shrink-wrap the entire state of Texas.  I figured out  we could do Rhode Island in 2 days.

     Still, plastics pollution has managed to sneak into the news, in spite of the salacious news coming out of Washington on a daily basis.  The plastics industry pumped out 113 billion pounds of plastic resin in 2017.  That is roughly the weight of all humans on the planet.  In reading plastic statistics (try that for a lovely late summer afternoon) one finds some black humor amongst the dizzying numbers.  For example, the amount of plastic film and wrap produced annually could shrink-wrap the entire state of Texas.  I figured out  we could do Rhode Island in 2 days.

     Still, plastics pollution has managed to sneak into the news, in spite of the salacious news coming out of Washington on a daily basis.  The plastics industry pumped out 113 billion pounds of plastic resin in 2017.  That is roughly the weight of all humans on the planet.  In reading plastic statistics (try that for a lovely late summer afternoon) one finds some black humor amongst the dizzying numbers.  For example, the amount of plastic film and wrap produced annually could shrink-wrap the entire state of Texas.  I figured out  we could do Rhode Island in 2 days.

     Still, plastics pollution has managed to sneak into the news, in spite of the salacious news coming out of Washington on a daily basis.  The plastics industry pumped out 113 billion pounds of plastic resin in 2017.  That is roughly the weight of all humans on the planet.  In reading plastic statistics (try that for a lovely late summer afternoon) one finds some black humor amongst the dizzying numbers.  For example, the amount of plastic film and wrap produced annually could shrink-wrap the entire state of Texas.  I figured out  we could do Rhode Island in 2 days.

     Still, plastics pollution has managed to sneak into the news, in spite of the salacious news coming out of Washington on a daily basis.  The plastics industry pumped out 113 billion pounds of plastic resin in 2017.  That is roughly the weight of all humans on the planet.  In reading plastic statistics (try that for a lovely late summer afternoon) one finds some black humor amongst the dizzying numbers.  For example, the amount of plastic film and wrap produced annually could shrink-wrap the entire state of Texas.  I figured out  we could do Rhode Island in 2 days.

     Still, plastics pollution has managed to sneak into the news, in spite of the salacious news coming out of Washington on a daily basis.  The plastics industry pumped out 113 billion pounds of plastic resin in 2017.  That is roughly the weight of all humans on the planet.  In reading plastic statistics (try that for a lovely late summer afternoon) one finds some black humor amongst the dizzying numbers.  For example, the amount of plastic film and wrap produced annually could shrink-wrap the entire state of Texas.  I figured out  we could do Rhode Island in 2 days.

     Still, plastics pollution has managed to sneak into the news, in spite of the salacious news coming out of Washington on a daily basis.  The plastics industry pumped out 113 billion pounds of plastic resin in 2017.  That is roughly the weight of all humans on the planet.  In reading plastic statistics (try that for a lovely late summer afternoon) one finds some black humor amongst the dizzying numbers.  For example, the amount of plastic film and wrap produced annually could shrink-wrap the entire state of Texas.  I figured out  we could do Rhode Island in 2 days.

     Still, plastics pollution has managed to sneak into the news, in spite of the salacious news coming out of Washington on a daily basis.  The plastics industry pumped out 113 billion pounds of plastic resin in 2017.  That is roughly the weight of all humans on the planet.  In reading plastic statistics (try that for a lovely late summer afternoon) one finds some black humor amongst the dizzying numbers.  For example, the amount of plastic film and wrap produced annually could shrink-wrap the entire state of Texas.  I figured out  we could do Rhode Island in 2 days.

     In the U.S. we throw away some 700 water bottles  every second-  2.5 million per hour!  Try to imagine a pipe large enough to pump 700 water bottles through it per second and then think of it running 24/7 all year- go ahead, stop reading for a second and try to imagine that.

     A University of Georgia study concluded that the 18 billion lbs of plastic trash per year would cover every foot of coastline in the world with five full trash bags-- compounding every tear.  Incidentally, we introduce 400 million pounds of carbon into the atmosphere to produce all that plastic.

     But I'm getting away from my central thesis- the scourge of trash can liners.  Virtually all garbage cans are now made of plastic.  The idea of putting a plastic liner in a plastic container is foolish sounding enough, but the justifications for doing so seem even less sensible to me.  Convenience is a big selling point.  Is the idea that carrying a plastic bag out to your landfill containers is easier than carrying a plastic trash can? Some might think so, unless, of course, it is dripping some organic goo.  How about when the edges of the bag slip off the edge of the can.  That always makes a convenient mess.

     But what about cleanliness you may ask.  Really?  How clean is your garbage can?  When was the last time you cleaned it?  There are those of you who may reply that you clean your garbage can on a somewhat regular basis.  That's good, now may I ask why you need a plastic liner to begin with?

     I'm not saying that there never will be a need or use for a trash bag.  I can't think of one right now unless it would be for storage of something besides garbage.  Also, we bought this kitchen garbage can with the foot pedal on it before we realized that the mechanism basically made the use of a liner a requirement.  Fortunately, I found a partial roll of the right size liners (at the Point Arena recycling drop-off no less) that I use, but I try to put one of the other zillion plastic bags we acquire as consumers  inside the first liner to make it last until it stinks.

     Then there is the cost.  While plastic bags may be somewhat inexpensive, not using one is free.

     To me plastic garbage can liners are just another one of those things that nobody knew they wanted until an industry spent millions of dollars to convince people they were necessities.

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    I don't like leaving readers bummed out feeling they have been lectured to, so please let me conclude with some positive plastic news.  

     A chemistry professor in India, known as The Plastic Man, developed a process to use waste plastic for road construction.  The process consists of mixing waste plastic with heated bitumen and coating the aggregate with the mixture. Prof Rajagopalan Vasudevan explains, “The advantages of using waste plastics for road construction are many. The process is easy and does not need any new machinery. For every kilo of stone, 50 gms of bitumen is used and 1/10th of this is plastic waste; this reduces the amount of bitumen being used.  Plastic increases the aggregate impact value and improves the quality of flexible pavements.  Wear and tear of the roads is decreased to a large extent,”  He implemented the use of plastic waste on a road constructed inside the premises of his college in 2002.  The road is holding up well 16 years later as plastic waste helps increase the strength of the road, reducing road fatigue. These roads have better resistance towards rain water and cold weather.

     Not wishing to rest on his success, he went on to create a stone block with plastic coating called a plastone.  It has been found to withstand more pressure than cement blocks and it resists water percolation Each plastone block consumes 300 plastic carry bags and around six PET bottles.

     Wouldn't it be nice if we had a federal government that funded this kind of activity instead of funding space weapons and oil wars?

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