Saturday, February 23, 2013

Our Plastic World

I saw a link to this video on Facebook the other day.

Far as I can tell, it's a promo for a kickstarter project to raise money to make a movie about how bad plastic is when you toss it in the ocean.  OK, plastic is bad.
No, those aren't colored rocks, that's plastic on that beach.
The solution to the plastic problem is simple. Stop pumping oil out of the ground.  No oil, no plastic.  Of course that would impact lifestyles that people have become accustomed to.  What can you give the kids for their birthdays that isn't made out of plastic?  What sort of clothes can you get that aren't made out of plastic?
Some day when we no longer make plastic, we will have to go down to the beach to get our plastic, like a five gallon bucket or a beach ball or a pair of flip flops.  Sorry, they don't wash up in pairs.  You might have to mix colors.  With luck, you might find a right and a left in your size.
Walk into any sporting goods or outdoor store and the smell alone will tell you that you have stepped into a plastic goods emporium outgassing massive quantities of plastic fumes.  I am surprised that the state of California doesn't require stores to put warning labels on their doors to warn customers that the air inside these places is toxic.
One of the grander REI plastics emporiums.  Looks like they set this one up in an abandoned cathedral.
The irony of it all is that the people who shop in places like REI are lovers of the outdoors and generally lead healthy lifestyles, that is of course except when they go into an REI store and breathe the air there.
Sally Jewell, REI CEO sporting some REI plastic products.
Oh, & I just read that Sally Jewell, CEO of REI has just been nominated by Mr. Obama to become Secretary of the Interior.  So how does this bode for the elimination of plastic from the environment?  Not well, I imagine since plastic is REI's number one money making product.  If you took all the plastic out of an REI store, what would be left?  Not picking on REI here in particular.  It's not any worse than any other store, it's just that the irony is deeper.
Anyway, not participating in the plastic culture is next to impossible since everything made today contains plastic, at the very least in its packaging.
Is that a plastic gyre?  No it's thousands of plastic kayaks come together for a photo op. 
And then there's myself.  I use plastic string to lash my kayaks together,  and then I cover them with a plastic skin and then I seal the skin with a plastic coating.  I could do like Svend Ulstrup, a kayak builder and teacher in Denmark who only uses non-plastic materials in his kayaks.  I used to be like him, but like the convenience of plastic. It doesn't rot as fast as natural materials.  You have to let it sit out in the sun for two years to get it to start breaking down. Still, people love plastic because it's shiny when it's new but I'll stop using it if I can convince people that shiny isn't everything.
But if someone wants to come and picket my shop and make a movie about how I am polluting the ocean, I'd be willing to stop, and I would also stop wearing polyester fleece clothing even though it's warm and fuzzy.  Yes, every time I run the fleece through the washer, thousands of little polyester hairs break off the thing and go down the drain during the rinse cycle and from there on to the waste processing center in West Oakland and from there into San Francisco Bay and from there with the next outgoing tide through the Golden Gate and into the Pacific.  And from there, into the digestive system of all sorts of marine creatures who have no idea why they are feeling bloated even though they're hungry. 
I'm starting to talk myself out of wearing polyester fleece.  How about you?

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