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What in the world is a 'plasticarian'?

By: Don Loepp

June 11, 2013

Until two days ago, I'd never seen the term "plasticarian." Suddenly it's popping up regularly in my news searches.

So what in the world is a "plasticarian"?

The truth is, we've been writing about plasticarians for several years, but we just haven't used that term before. A plasticarian is a person who pursues a lifestyle that tries to minimize -- if not eliminate -- the use of plastics.

The best known plasticarian is probably Beth Terry, a California-based activist and author who has a blog -- "My Plastic-Free Life" -- and wrote Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too.

But the first time I saw the term plasticarian used was in a story from London's The independent newspaper, "Meet a plasticarian (that's a person who does not use plastic)."

The story is about Thomas Smith, identified as a PhD chemistry student from Manchester, England, who decided to give up plastic.

"I came to the realization that in modern lives we come into contact with plastic constantly; the idea is you get the package, use it, and throw it in the bin. But in reality, a bit of plastic you had for a second lasts longer than your lifetime," he told the newspaper.

Smith gave up the crusade after six months, according to the report.

But the term plasticarian lives on.

In fact, one story that I noticed today points out that the Urban Dictionary website has already added a definition for plasticarian.

But it's not likely to be popular with the plasticarians themselves.

The definition: "The hippie douchbag who is trying not to use plastic in his/her daily life."

Adam - "What's wrong with your teeth?"

Joe - "I can't brush them because I can't find any tooth brushes or tooth paste suitable for me :("

Adam - "Why not?"

Joe - "I'm a raging plasticarian"