Common-sense advice on cutting down on plastics

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Here's an interesting reaction to Rodale Inc.'s "Plastic-free February" -- some tips for cutting down on plastics from an industry insider.

Sandy Bauers, environmental reporter for the The Philadelphia Inquirer, wrote a column -- "So much plastic - and so hard to avoid using it" -- on March 7.

Response to the column was strong, she wrote in her Green Living blog on March 9. One note that stood out, she said, was from Craig Blizzard, a polypropylene industry veteran now working as an industry consultant in West Chester, Pa.

He wrote:

First, if one wishes to reduce personal plastic consumption for solid waste reasons, immediately stop consuming things which overuse plastic packaging since not many humans actually consume plastics per se. Glaring examples include soft drinks/beer at the stadium in heavy polypropylene cups, fast food pre-packaged salads in glossy polystyrene plates and lids, windshield wipers in their annoying PVC sleeve packages and TV sets, etc. swathed in polystyrene and polyethylene foam.

Second, if one wishes to reduce personal plastic consumption for personal health reasons such as a fear of any detectable level of plastic additive migration, stop consuming things packed/conveyed in plastics altogether. Every plastic can be made to exfoliate its chemical additives under some set of (possibly extreme) laboratory conditions if that's what the researcher wants to demonstrate. Under normal usage of most things plastic, my scientific sense suggests that our breathing of the exhaust emissions from our >150 million vehicle fleet in North America is likely to be order-of-magnitude more damaging to individual health than any plastic additive migration and that one's use of plastics is relatively riskless.

Third, if one wishes to reduce personal plastic consumption for energy conservation reasons, better and easier to reduce personal auto travel by 5-10%. The energy conservation by that action would likely dwarf the total energy content of the amount of plastics even the "greenest" person could reasonably save by meticulously reducing his/her consumption. Plastics are not a "low hanging fruit" in energy conservation.

Its interesting that Bauers devoted an entire blog post to Blizzard's thoughtful response to her column. Perhaps there's an example here that others could follow.