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By Don Loepp | About The Plastics Blog

Seattle museum explores impact of plastics

By Don Loepp | January 8, 2013 06:00 am ET
Keywords: PHA, Recycling, Washing

Plastics Unwrapped

Seattle's Burke Museum just opened a new exhibit called "Plastics Unwrapped," which explores how material culture has been changed by plastics.

The story isn't all positive for plastics, to be sure. In fact, an arts critic for the Seattle Times writes today: "The exhibit, of course, focuses on the downside of these wonders, summed up in the phrase 'Here today, still here tomorrow.'" ("'Plastics Unwrapped' nicely packaged at the Burke").

But this isn't all about plastics bashing. "Plastics Unwrapped" also looks at benefits of plastics, like what they mean to improved healthcare.

"Plastics help keep us safe and healthy. They make our daily lives convenient in so many ways, it's nearly impossible to imagine a world without them," says a press kit about the exhibit.

It continues: "Learn what life was like before plastics, how they are made, why they're so convenient and beneficial to use, and what happens after we throw them away.

"The exhibit explores how plastics have changed the world, through topics ranging from life before plastics to the effects of plastic on our health and the environment. See pre-plastic objects from the Burke Museum's collection, understand what the recycling numbers mean on plastic items, and learn about promising breakthroughs in science that are changing the role of plastic in our lives."

The exhibit, which runs through May 27, also includes some special programs.

On Feb. 5, the Seattle Theatre Group will present an evening of "Short Takes on Plastics," with 10 experts from the University of Washington and elsewhere discussing discussing the benefits and unwanted side effects of plastics on health, cultures, and environments across the globe.

And on Wednesday evenings between April 3 and May 22, the museum and the university's Program on the Environment will present a weekly seminar series called "Plastics Unwrapped: The Good, the Bad, the Debate."

The first speaker will be Susan Freinkel, author of "Plastic: A Toxic Love Story." (See Plastics News' interview with Freinkel here: "Book examines controversy over plastic.")

It says something about the reputation of plastics that a museum exhibit would feel the need to pointedly include information on both "The Good" and "The Bad" of the material. Would an exhibit on glass, paper, aluminum or steel have this sort of emphasis?

Meanwhile, If any Plastics Blog readers in the Seattle area visit the exhibit or take part in the special programs, I'd like to hear from you.


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Seattle museum explores impact of plastics

By Don Loepp

Published: January 8, 2013 6:00 am ET
Updated: January 17, 2013 12:40 am ET

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