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?
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?
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.
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
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
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
Do You Think This Lens Is Convincing? - Will you switch from plastic to safe alternatives?
Are you prepared to stop your plastic addiction
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
A Japanese Solution to Plastic Refuse
Still images from Dreamstime - click here
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© 2010 norma-holt