Today's Web searches bring two stories about journalists trying to live without plastics. Not all plastics, of course -- no one is talking about stripping the insulation off their electrical wiring, or getting rid of their indoor plumbing. More specifically, they're trying to live without plastic packaging or some housewares. The first is a column by Bowen Island, British Columbia, blogger James Glave. He writes with passion about why his family has decided to get rid of plastics -- culminating in a trip to the recycling depot to get rid of his beloved food storage containers.
I can hear you snickering out there, and I don't blame you. As far as eco-resolutions go, this one is probably both ridiculous and futile. We know that the lion's share of our food -- yogurt, milk, berries, applesauce, nuts, cooking oil, you name it -- is sold to us in plastic packaging. For decades, industry and government scientists have assured us these "food grade" pots, tubs, and sacks are completely benign. They're lightweight compared to glass -- which means less of a carbon penalty from shipping -- and of course they're recyclable. And as a former Servin' Savers evangelist, I know the convenience is unbeatable. But here's the thing, Mr. Industry and Ms. Government. I've been struggling with a few trust issues as of late.His concern relates to polycarbonate safety, because of the recent controversy over bisphenol A. He notes that the company that made the PC baby bottles he used to feed his children now sell bottles made of another type of plastic, but that's not good enough:
Oh I know, I know: The third-party research is solid; polypropylene and everything else with a number inside a triangle is perfectly safe. Plastic will remain a staple of our lives for many years to come. Hey, I'm touching it as I write this story. But I don't trust that science anymore, and as a result, I'm no longer going to eat off the stuff. I'm no longer able to brush aside the odd taste the water in my squeeze bottle assumes after it's spent a hot day under my sea kayak's deck rigging. I'm not going to microwave yesterday's macaroni in the fresh-saver locking-lid container and then serve it up to my family. I'm not doing any of that anymore. This stuff is petroleum, and I've lost my enthusiasm for its endless miracles.Glave notes that he's not a Luddite "who would do away with life-saving medical devices and send us back to the oxen in the fields," adding, "there are many scenarios where plastic is the more sustainable choice. I think of my lunch-kit reboot as the start of a personal investigation into my relationship with plastic; we can't live without this stuff, but I wonder if maybe we can learn to live with less of it, or figure out how to deploy it more thoughtfully." Taking more or less the same approach is Christine Jeavans of BBC News, who plans to do without plastic packaging for the month of August. Why? Check out this video, where she shows how much plastic she and her family goes through in an average month. Right off the bat, she talks to Paul Davidson of the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) about the plastic she plans to do without. She asks him, how difficult will it be to stop using plastic? His reply is interesting: "I think it's going to be quite a challenge. But also, I think, it may not environmentally be the best thing to do. Plastics actually play a really important role in making sure that our food gets to us in the best condition that it can possibly arrive in," Davidson said. Avoiding plastics means food will have a shorter shelf life, or it will otherwise increase the amount of waste, he said. It's interesting how these two journalists are both trying to avoid plastics, but for two different reasons -- one because of waste issues, the other because of chemical safety concerns. In a nutshell, this captures some of the main challenges that the plastics industry is facing.