August 25, 2009

Addicted to Plastic



I just finished watching the 2008 documentary Addicted To Plastic by filmmaker Ian Connacher. The film documents a three-year journey that explores the environmental consequences of the irresponsible use of plastic materials. Connacher travels to 12 countries on 5 continents, including two trips to the middle of the Pacific Ocean where plastic debris accumulates. This extraordinary film details the history of plastic over the last 100 years, provides a wealth of expert interviews, and cutting-edge solutions for recycling, toxicity and biodegradability. These solutions - which include plastic made from plants – provide a new perspective about the future of plastic.

As an environmentally-savvy activist, I was aware of the negative impacts of the use of plastic materials, but I didn’t realize the magnitude of the problem. According to the film, only 5% of plastic materials are recycled in America and the rest ends up in dumps, landfills and, very commonly, in the middle of the ocean. Yikes! All of that junk just floating around really makes one think: How did this all happen?

Most of us can’t remember a time before that popular slogan “plastics make it possible”. In post-war America, plastic materials were marketed to the public as disposable, fly by night sort of material that was meant to be thrown out. These materials were intended to make American lives easier and they certainly did, but not without consequences. It seems that we still live that way –consuming plastics and then throwing them away. If we, as a society, continue to produce, consume, and throw away plastic materials, we will eventually find ourselves living in our own filth. As we become more knowledgeable about the consequences, we’re realizing that plastics do not make it possible. As a matter of fact, plastics are taking a difficult toll on our environment.

So, how do we fix this problem? There are many eco-conscious products that can be used as a substitute to plastic materials. The film suggests using corn and soy based materials, recycled plastics, and bio-degradable plastic alternatives. It is also important to be mindful of what we consume and how we dispose of them. These environmentally-friendly materials encourage us to consider our actions and how they impact the future.

Social change requires thought and action in order to make it a reality. I encourage everyone to take a proactive part in the transformation of our shared environment. I believe that begins with developing a shared respect for each person’s space.


Have you seen Addicted To Plastic? What are your thoughts on the use of plastic products and our environment?


This post was written by Laura Scroggs who is a feminist scholar living in the mid-west. She is currently an active community volunteer and volunteer blogger with the Literacy 'n' Poverty Project. Please leave your comments or email info@makesocialchangeareality.com with questions.

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