I've ranted before about plastic but it's been awhile so why not get worked up again over the unfortunately long living material. I know plastic produces many very useful things for places like hospitals where the use of it saves lives on a daily basis, but I still don't quite understand why there's not more research for healthy replacements. Plastic after all is also an Evil Doer and we Americans don't like Evil Doers in the least. The Film Society of Lincoln Center will be showing a documentary this month entitled Plastic Planet (a film by Werner Boote) Plastic Planet examines the far-reaching effects of plastic on the environment and of course as most of us know, what effects the environment's health, effects its inhabitant's health. Plastic has some toxic ingredients (vinyl chloride (PVC) and bisphenol A (BPA) to name just a couple) and with change in temperature and over time, those ingredients leach. That nasty leaching ends up in our systems and the rest of nature via food containers, shampoo bottles, water bottles - or even off a bit guard from your dentist. As you can see the list can go on. If a person starts paying attention to every time they come into contact with a piece of plastic, it can become a long list quickly. Some of these ingredients are considered carcinogenic by many in the medical industry and can also lead to hormone imbalance, birth defects and a whole host of unwanted, often deadly ailments. So why are these kinds of plastics legal? That's a good question. Probably because they're inexpensive and without certain soft plastics we wouldn't have soft and flexible surgical tubbing and other important lifesaving tools. It just seems to me that there should be alternatives in this day and age. Can't there be a non-toxic plastic or medium similar in characteristics that would work just as well, if not better? We actually have a whole slew of bio-degradable options to plastic already available, so what's the hold up? I'm guessing plastic manufacturers don't want to switch to other mediums that cost more. Just a guess of course...
The environmental effects are catastrophic as well. They end up in landfills and take many many years to degrade. As they degrade they leach also. Alternate solutions to a landfill don't work very well either as burning plastic would release the poisons into the atmosphere. Plastics often don't even make it to the landfills either. They often end up in water ways and are the demise of much wildlife. All around they are a serious downer. Where's the plus, I ask you?
The important thing is to be aware of the problem because if we all begin to take note of the amount of plastic in our lives we can make a conscious effort to use less of it, thus creating less of a demand (Does that sound too Polly Anna? Maybe but I really believe it can happen). It's possible plastic manufacturers will look for alternatives if plastic is considered an undesirable commodity. Checking out a good film on the subject, especially one that can bring a little entertainment to the matter is a great way to get the word out.
Plastic Planet is said to be a humorous look at a serious situation. Let's hope it inspires it's audiences to take action. At the very minimum the most dangerous plastics should be a material of the past no matter how cheap and versatile they are, they're too destructive to be worth it. (And if you don't make it to Plastic Planet (or even if you do) you might want to rent Blue Vinyl. A informative and even witty documentary about the effects of PVC on people and the environment.)