Let’s be realistic, we are not going to stop using plastic. It can’t be un-invented, and even the most die-hard environmentalist would not want a world completely free of plastic.
Because without plastic we have no electronics other than very basic lighting and heating.
No computers. No phones.
None of the smart machines that help to keep us alive in hospital.
Forget aircraft, other than the wood, glue, wire, string and cross-your-fingers ones of the beginning of the 20th century. They’d be propeller-driven and trips to the other side of the world would be a thing of the past, other than for the very rich with lots of time on their hands.
Although that brings up another environmental question altogether, of course.
No, I don’t know why I chose this picture either.
What we do need to do is to get smart with how we use plastic, and what we use it for.
Most importantly, single use plastic bags should go. Period. So should all plastic bottles. Just getting rid of those items would cut plastic waste enormously.
We should return to using paper to wrap food products, and linen or paper bags to carry them.
This would limit what could be shipped long distances, and our choices, but we need to accept that.
There will still be those who say ‘I demand freshly picked paradiddles from the rain forests of the Antarctic and I don’t care about the environment!’ but society has to learn to say ‘Well, you can’t have them!’
But might we be able to have our cake and eat it?
Or even our paradiddles?
Possibly…there are already excellent alternatives to plastic bags, in the form of bags made from corn-starch, which is similar to the plastic ‘traditional’ plastic bags are made from, but really is bio-degradable. In fact, they are bio-compostable, which is one step up from being merely bio-degradable, in that they break down into carbon dioxide and organic matter only. This means that to get rid of them you simply chuck them on your compost heap and they break down rapidly. * but see below
There are disposable cups, food storage containers and much more already in use. And even the thickest items, such as corn-starch cutlery, take only 6 months to decompose once thrown away.
Why is there not a greater push towards using these worldwide?
Dare I suggest vested interests?
* I am now adding a rider to this!
It seems I didn’t do my homework thoroughly on this one. There are problems in disposing of corn-starch polymers in that they have to be separated out from all other plastics, which is totally impractical since they look much the same, and cannot be sent to landfill sites. And if mixed in with ‘normal’ plastics, they contaminate them and prevent their being re-cycled.
Pah – I thought it all seemed too simple!