Save the Planet Article 2

by Joseph Pescatello - Date: 2007-01-04 - Word Count: 480 Share This!

This is the second article in a series that examines common house-hold products, how their manufacture and consumption affects the environment and how we can use less in our day-to-day lives. This article discusses the use of plastics.

Plastic is everywhere. It's in out clothes and in our cars. Our cabinets and refrigerators are filled with it. Our electronics are encased in it. Our Christmas trees and Menorahs are made from it. Nearly everything we buy is packaged in it. DVD's, dolls, doilies, drinking cups; silverware, salad tongs, sandwich bags - as I said, plastic is everywhere.

All of this plastic has a tremendous impact on the environment - both when it's made and when it's disposed of. Today Americans generate 10.5 million tons of plastic waste every year, but we recycle less than 2%. And because plastic decomposes very slowly, nearly every single piece of plastic ever made is still in existence and it will be for thousands of years! The issue of plastic disposal is so serious that in 1987 Congress passed Marine Plastic Pollution Research and Control Act which prohibits the dumping of anything plastic in the ocean by anyone on any water-going vessel.

As huge as the problem of plastic disposal is, the production of plastics may take a greater toll on our environment. Here are some of the toxic wastes generated when plastics are made:

*Vinyl Chloride


*Nitrous Oxide

*Carbon Monoxide



Additionally, large amounts of the fossil fuels are consumed in the manufacturing process. Clearly, we pay a high price for the convenience that plastic offers.

But we do have a choice. There are plenty of materials that were in-use long before plastic as we know it was adapted to consumer goods. Here are some tips to get you thinking about ways to minimize your consumption of plastics. When manufacturers see that plastic goods are being passed over for their alternatives, the pendulum may start to swing back.

1) When buying groceries, look for products that aren't packaged with plastic. Glass, metal and paper are all better for the environment and are more easily recycled.

2) Choose household items that aren't made of plastic. Buy the wooden-handled mop and the metal bucket instead of their plastic counter-parts.

3) Buy natural fiber clothes. They're more comfortable and usually better looking than polyester.

4) Buy real wood furniture rather than the plastic variety.

5) Artificial flowers and plants are made from natural materials like silk. They are also usually better looking than the plastic variety.

6) Plastic plates, cups and silverware are huge pollutants and wastes of energy. Get real ones!

7) Looks around your house and chances are you'll see clocks, picture frames, table lamps, scissors, pens, patio furniture, and many more items that are made of plastic but have counter parts made of natural material. When it comes time to replace those things, seek out the non-plastic alternatives.

If each individual acts to minimize the production of pollutants, the whole world will benefit.

Related Tags: environment, plastic, recycling, consumerism, pollution, ecology, toxic waste

Joe Pescatello is an author and commercial software developer. Visit for a sample of his work.

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