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Refuse Plastic

Updated on September 30, 2014

Waste It or Reject It?

Plastic is an insidious man-made cancer pervading our oceans, killing animals and causing disease in humans. You can read more here on a previous lens of mine. In fact, you should read that lens before this one to understand why this lens is so important.

Many responded to that article with suggestions that they recycle plastic and that helps prevent the problem. That's not the case, however, as recycled plastic is just more plastic. It is made into things that still find their way into oceans, rivers, food chains and eventually our stomach, in one form or another.Recently there has been a large spike in the number of bowel and intestinal cancers to say nothing of those in breasts, brains, prostates, and other organs. Are we hell bent on poisoning ourselves for the sake of a convenient, cheap, handy and non-biodegradable product that we should be running a mile from?

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Old fashioned cooking
Old fashioned cooking

Cancer Deaths are Horrible

For both victims and relatives

My dear beloved grandmother died of cancer at the age of just 64. I was only 13 at the time but my search for knowledge drove me to investigate what it was that she did repeatedly that may have caused the disease.

My mind focused on aluminum because she used saucepans made of that metal in her kitchen, but so did just about everyone else. But I was driven to research the stuff and what I found out was disturbing, even for one at that age. My main concern was leeching of aluminium molecules into food during cooking. After that I took note of people who died of cancer and their cooking pots, which were invariably aluminum.

Now I am finding the same thing in relation to plastic. Adults are developing mouth and throat cancers years after they suckled on plastic dummies and drank their milk from plastic. Research shows that this was a just call. Plastic leeches toxic substances into food, especially as it is heated and repeatedly reused.

Plastics do not break down into nature friendly products but simply degrade very slowly into ever smaller particles. It is highly resistant to natural forces of degradation. Wikipedia notes that since the 1950s of the one billion tons of plastic discarded the likelihood is that it will persist for hundreds maybe thousands of years. Burning plastic is no alternative as it releases toxic fumes. The plastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC) also creates dioxins while the manufacturing process involved creates large quantities of pollutants

Man has become a wiz at combining earths elements into compounds that would never have formed otherwise. And what's more we pay the inventors of such things handsomely as we crave the new substance like kids in a lolly shop. We can't wait to get our hands on it and to do what the latest movie buff is doing. What a sick lot we are and most have no idea what I am talking about. Do you?

Should Man Play around with Chemicals - Or are they playing with death?

A lot of good has come about, probably, by mixing certain chemicals and creating usable products. But has life changed for the better or worse because of man's intervention?

Should we be changing the chemical nature of things for our benefit?

Yes

Yes

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    • Kathryn Grace 5 years ago from San Francisco

      That's a very interesting question. As one elderly gentleman pointed out to a them youthful me, every element on earth, including our bodies, is made of chemicals. Since we are a biological organism, we are harmed by some chemicals and chemical compounds, such as carbon dioxide, and absolutely must have others to survive, such as water.

      Humans cannot escape chemicals, but we surely do need to understand how they affect us. There are times that changing the chemical nature of things is to our benefit. Cooking is one example. Other times, we are poisoning ourselves. Petroleum-derived products provide numerous examples of that. I'll come down on the side of yes, but only because I have to choose one or the other.

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      This is a difficult question, because it really is not black and white. On the one hand, plastic wouldnt exist if there were no chemical playing around, but on the other no medicines either. Finding the right reason for mixing chemicals is the goal. I am going to say yes, just because I feel medicines outweigh plastic right now.

    No

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      • anonymous 5 years ago

        Playing with death . . The truth is all around us! Let's get active: REFUSE PLASTIC at the point of contact! We can change things for the better and should make every effort to do so . . Join Group (for legal coordinated sustained action) REFUSE PLASTIC LINK UP GROUP on Face Book

      • ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

        I am going to veer toward 'no' in this imprecise answer, because I basically fear manufactured chemicals and mistrust international corporations. Where it all goes really wrong is the pursuit of profit above all other considerations. Unbridled commercialism is the name of the game. Finally, I have to say that the right answer must be somewhere in the grey area.

      Children with Cancer - No one knows the cause

      But look at the toys this child is playing with. They are all made of plastic. Children also put toys in their mouths from a very young age.

      chemical experiment
      chemical experiment

      The Deadly Side Effects of Plastics

      It usually takes around 2 decades to work out the cause of something

      By my age you know how slowly the medical world catches up to stuff that people have suspected or known for years. This is the case with plastic. Although my mum would never have let us have anything that might affect our health plastic was not around much in her day. But now it is everywhere and just how observant are you as to the way it is infiltrating every aspect of our lives?

      While a medical student we were treated to the pleasure of actually making polystyrene in the laboratory. It was fun to take a few chemicals and to drip one into the other through the special instruments and then watch as the compound created suddenly bubbled up and produced the foamy substance that is the basis of this plastic. It was a long time ago now and bio chemistry was a fascinating subject but not one I excelled in. Nonetheless the experiment left its mark in my memory.

      This report is from Wikipedia:- "Due to their insolubility in water and relative chemical inertness, pure plastics generally have low toxicity in their finished state, and will pass through the digestive system with no ill effect (other than mechanical damage or obstruction).

      "However, plastics often contain a variety of toxic additives. For example, plasticizers like adipates and phthalates are often added to brittle plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) to make them pliable enough for use in food packaging, children's toys and teethers, tubing, shower curtains and other items. Traces of these chemicals can leach out of the plastic when it comes into contact with food. Out of these concerns, the European Union has banned the use of DEHP (di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate), the most widely used plasticizer in PVC. Some compounds leaching from polystyrene food containers have been found to interfere with hormone functions and are suspected human carcinogens.

      "Moreover, while the finished plastic may be non-toxic, the monomers used in its manufacture may be toxic; and small amounts of those chemicals may remain trapped in the product. The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has recognized the chemical used to make PVC, vinyl chloride, as a known human carcinogen Some polymers may also decompose into the monomers or other toxic substances when heated.

      The primary building block of polycarbonates, bisphenol A (BPA), is an estrogen-like endocrine disruptor that may leach into food. Research in Environmental Health Perspectives finds that BPA leached from the lining of tin cans, dental sealants and polycarbonate bottles can increase body weight of lab animals' offspring. A more recent animal study suggests that even low-level exposure to BPA results in insulin resistance, which can lead to inflammation and heart disease."

      How Plastic Bottles are Made

      Supermarket shopping
      Supermarket shopping

      Refuse Plastic and Change Your Life

      Its easy to do

      Many cities in Australia have banned or are outlawing the use of plastic bags. Some stores charge for them if customers insist on having their goods packaged this way. But many stores have produced their own cloth bags which people buy for a few cents and take shopping for reuse over and over for years to come. They are strong, reliable and far less hazardous if they end up in the rubbish bin.

      When shopping my personal pull along trolley is the answer to plastic bags. Everything goes in unwrapped just like the old fashioned shopping baskets, which my grandmother took with her to the shops. Its surprising how much does not need to be in a bag at all.

      Plastic Is An Unnecessary Pollutant

      It up to the consumer to say no to goods wrapped in plastic. There are other choices and producers do cotton on to new trends, just as they have with organically grown produce.

      If we say NO, they will have no choice but to comply.

      Make Your Own Bags Like These
      Make Your Own Bags Like These

      Make Your Own Bags

      It only takes a little enterprise.

      Years ago things bought at grocery stores were put into paper bags, but that is not a sustainable practice or worthwhile solution to the problem. But making cheap bags out of material is, or even doing some crochet work. For instance, if you have odd bits of fabric lying around unused then create some small bags into which you can put some grocery items, e.g. bananas, beans, zuccinis, etc. Keep each separate for weighing at the checkout. That means having a few of these little packets in your trolley.

      As others see what you have done they might copy the idea themselves and before long we could see this taking off as a new trend. The good side to this is that these bags can be washed and used again and again for years.

      If you don't have a supermarket supplying you with larger cotton bags then make you own. Get some really strong fabric and cut to size, sew into a bag shape and put two sturdy crescent shaped handles at the top, one on either side. Its surprising how well they work. They pack nicely into your trolley and into the boot of the car.

      As for goods stored in plastic there are often alternatives to buying them. For instance don't buy cheese in plastic but go to the deli and get it cut and put into your own cotton bag. Same thing with meats and fruit. Its up to us to refuse the plastic and to stop turning it into refuse. I find a lot of stuff comes in glass and plastic, such as sauces. Here you need to choose only the glass packaged products.

      Green Alternative Shopping Bags - Be wise - refuse plastic

      h

      Do You Think This Lens Is Convincing? - Will you switch from plastic to safe alternatives?

      Are you prepared to stop your plastic addiction

      Yes

      Yes

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        • norma-holt 4 years ago

          @nifwlseirff: Get yourself a trolley. They are marvelous and I have made some small bags from a light cotton which I use, instead of small plastic bags, to contain my fruit and veg when in supermarkets. There are more ways to avoid plastic than the obvious. These things reduce plastic like crazy. Also don't buy sauces or food packed in plastic as the contaminant would be in the food. It's up to shoppers to set the standards

        • nifwlseirff 4 years ago

          I've been reducing plastic as much as practical for years. The main sticking point is garbage bags (which I get as biodegradable plastic). My kettle is plastic free (on the inside), and I've recently read links between BPA and endometriosis - how much of my illness was caused by plastic exposure?

        • Kathryn Grace 5 years ago from San Francisco

          I've been working on reducing plastic in our household and lives for a few years, but I have a long way to go.

          Only today I learned that phtalates and other plastics are used to coat many of the over the counter medicines we take when we are feeling ill. Beth Terry of the blog, My Plastic Free Life, wrote about that unsavory discovery.

          A few weeks ago, I saw an article about a new study that found that marine animals have ingested so much water filled with microscopic bits of plastic, that their bloodstreams are contaminated with the stuff.

          Marine animals are at the bottom of our food chain. Whatever toxins are in them are amplified as each succeeding predator family nosh on their prey. We are the last stop in that food chain. Imagine what we are eating.

        • Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

          Very convincing argument for reducing the plastics that we use. I agree 100% the dangers of plastics is also one of my campains too.

        • ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

          So much usage of plastic is gratuitous and unnecessary. For the necessary bits, there may be alternatives. We as a family certainly frequently reject plastic. I would easily answer yes except that I don't have a plastic addiction! However, I have to go with yes, as that is where my heart is.

        • anonymous 6 years ago

          Sadly, there will always be a number of people that will say 'to hell with it' and continue to buy/use plastic. I am already reducing and won't buy some products if there is excessive use of packaging. The one that immediately comes to mind is the packaging around a camera memory card. Ridiculous!

        • jennysue19 7 years ago

          I'm trying hard with respect to not getting more supermarket bags and choosing glass packaged items, but it is very hard to be plastic free.

        • hosting-reviews 7 years ago

          For sure. I already use green shopping bags made of cloth.

        No

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          • kimmanleyort 7 years ago

            Well, actually, I would love to and am trying to, but plastic is so pervasive in our society. I would recommend watching a great movie called Addicted to Plastic. It makes the case you are making while also showing up scientists who are developing non-toxic, biodegradable plastic-type materials. I think that this is the answer.

          This Planet is Our Home

          When it is too polluted for life to survive we will DIE

          Is that incentive enough to change the way you use plastic?

          Will you join with me and refuse to take it into your home?

          Are You Interested in Doing What You Can To Save It - Even if it is a little inconvenient or more expensive

          Do you want to live in a world without pollution

          Yes

          Yes

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            • DecoratingMom411 5 years ago

              Yes I would.

            • whats4dinner 5 years ago

              That would be great.

            • ernieplotter 5 years ago

              But it takes commitment and responsibility and lots of action!

            • ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

              yay!

            • anonymous 6 years ago

              Coming from New Zealand to California was an eye-opener - what a wasteful society there is living here! Not just plastic, but everything!! Drive around on a Sunday and you will see garage doors open, garages stuffed full of everything but cars! Boggles my mind. I want to live on Walton's Mountain - I am tired of this filthy world!

            • HappySeasons LM 7 years ago

              Actually, I try to use the least amount of plastic possible... because of the very reasons you listed on this lens. Good stuff.

              Matt

            • kimmanleyort 7 years ago

              Absolutely!

            No

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              • Kathryn Grace 5 years ago from San Francisco

                No I do not. I've spent much of my adult life working one way and another to reduce pollution and protect Mother Earth.

              A Japanese Solution to Plastic Refuse

              Still images from Dreamstime - click here

              . . . Please scribe a little note and tell us your feelings. Thanks

              Please leave a rating

              Cast your vote for Refuse Plastic

              © 2010 norma-holt

              Before You Depart Say What you Think of This Lens

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                  DecoratingMom411 5 years ago

                  Good job. Very informative lens.

                • whats4dinner profile image

                  whats4dinner 5 years ago

                  Great lens that talks about an important issue.

                • ecogranny profile image

                  Kathryn Grace 5 years ago from San Francisco

                  Thank you so much for featuring my "Kick Your Paper Towel Habit" lens on this page. Much appreciated. Thank you, too, for spreading the word about the environmental mess and health dangers of plastic.

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                  Lorelei Cohen 5 years ago from Canada

                  A very informed and educational lens on the dangers of plastics in our society and to young children. I have long campained for a reduction in their use. It is so nice to see so many stores eliminated the use of plastic bags.

                • ChrisDay LM profile image

                  ChrisDay LM 6 years ago

                  Great work as usual.

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                  VarietyWriter2 6 years ago

                  Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

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                  anonymous 6 years ago

                  You are right about plastic being insidious. I don't think people are aware of how many things are either made from or contain some form of plastic. Take a window envelope for example. What do you think the window is made from? How many millions of those go out in the mail every single day? Fortunately there are some companies using envelopes with no cover over the window section and that is a good start. Just my 2 cents worth, but think about the reduction in plastic just from envelopes alone!! *SquidAngel Blessed*

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                  Philippians468 6 years ago

                  thank you for such an interesting lens! cheers

                • RaintreeAnnie profile image

                  RaintreeAnnie 6 years ago from UK

                  Excellent lens, very well presented and raises important issues. Sometimes I feel we have just gone too far the way we live, the impact on our world and the way we treat animals etc. Very thought provoking work. Lensrolling.

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                  Julia M S Pearce 6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

                  It is quite terrifying when you stop and think of all the plastics we use and what is in those plastic baby bottles!

                  Great lens!

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                  Cynthia Sylvestermouse 6 years ago from United States

                  As always, an excellent, thought provoking lens!

                • profile image

                  JMcGeeATL 7 years ago

                  Skies, your lens are always so informational, well put together and TRUTHFUL! Thank you so much for the time you put in to bring everyone this information. 5 stars

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                  kimmanleyort 7 years ago

                  Sometimes we need to be scared into doing things differently. I like your approach. Not to mention what our use of plastics is doing to the animals and sea life of this world.