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Plastic people

15 Jul 2020 | OP ED Watch

Plastic is inexpensive, versatile, reliable and indispensable in modern life, so it is only natural that the New York Times is against it, touting a month without plastic. Their Climate Fwd. newsletter recently kicked off with “Greetings and welcome to Plastic Free July!” The story admits that you can’t actually be plastic-free especially not during a pandemic, but it’s all about the warm glow. “‘It makes you feel like you’re doing something good, in line with your values, and that’s good for self esteem,’ Dr. Clayton said. ‘And it can make you feel more powerful. When it comes to global climate change, a lot of people feel so helpless.’” Not to worry. You can connect online with groups like “Plastic Free July“ using your plastic cellphone to send signals down insulated wires to vast server farms all built with plastic materials, before going out in your plastic kayak in your trendy polytetrafluoroethylene gear to… dang.

Incidentally Dr. Clayton is Susan Clayton, chair of the psychology department at The College of Wooster in Ohio, just in case she’s not the first person you thought of calling to ask whether plastic was unnecessary. And there might even be chumps in our audience who want to do something to fix the problem not boost their self-esteem by virtue-signaling. But according to John Holdren, a former science advisor to President Barack Obama quoted in the article, “It matters a great deal what people do as individuals to reduce their impact on the environment”.

Indeed. So install a bamboo mouse on your peat-moss computer, don your wooden shoes, reuse items others have touched during a pandemic, and save the world. Or keep on using plastic and just be sure to put it in the garbage or the recycling when you’re done, rather than throwing it in the ocean.

3 comments on “Plastic people”

  1. What is a Psychology prof doing telling us about plastic?
    Does she even know what is plastic technically?
    How would she feel if I as Scientist started telling her clients how to fix their personal problems, using whatever?

  2. We have an incinerator where we live, which converts trash to power. All those paper/wood/peat products produce about 10% ash when incinerated, filling up landfills. Plastic, on the other hand, produces very little ash - it burns very completely. (And incinerators are required to run at 800C+ to ensure that chlorinated plastics like vinyl do not produce toxic residue like dioxins.) So *if* your trash is handled by an incinerator, plastic is actually the eco-friendly choice, and paper should be recycled whenever possible (by keeping it clean and oil free - no pizza boxes).

    This all assumes people actually put their plastic trash in the trash. Plastic litter is a problem, but while plastic lasts forever in a landfill, UV breaks it down when irresponsible people leave it to blow in the wind and get caught in trees. Unless it gets to the ocean.

  3. PTFE...isn't that just non-stick coating? I have used PTFE coated wires, but never actually seen any clothing made of it, although I am sure it is possible. But why would you want non-stick clothing, and how do you sew non-stick threads, when sewing relies on friction to do its stuff? PTFE is also possessed of a very high melting point, so hard to weld together! Surely, some other, more suitable polymer thread would be used for clothing...like nylon...or polyester (PolyEthyleneTerePthalate, PET)?

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