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.