Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

A Life Lived in a Cave?

The title of this blog entry is a sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek way of re-writing “A life without plastics?,” which is the actual headline of a recent Chicago Tribune article. The reporter chronicles her family’s attempt to live one week without plastic in a funny and highly entertaining way. Of course, many assertions made about plastics in the article are misinformed. And, because the average person (like the reporter) knows so little about the entirety of what plastics makes possible, the article would be more correctly titled “A life without plastic packaging?” As Plastics News Editor Don Loepp states on his blog:

“As usual, the reporter doesn’t really make much of an effort to live entirely without plastic. That would require giving up electricity and plumbing, healthcare and automobiles. No, the focus is on giving up packaging and disposable diapers — and even then, [the] reporter discovers that living without plastics in 2008 isn’t easy (or perhaps even desirable).”

Like Don, most of the SPI staff were more intrigued – and more entertained – by the healthy exchange of ideas found in the section of readers’ online comments than by the article itself. In fact, we nabbed the title of this blog entry from this comment sent in by an Illinois reader:

“To go without plastic you’d have to live in a cave or tree. There is lots of plastic in every building. You couldn’t drive a car, ride a bus/plane, or ride a bike. You’d have no food since it’s used in the equipment to grow and harvest food and transport, refrigerate, etc. Get real!”

Now this is a reader who “gets it.”

You really should read through the comments section and tell us what you think. Not only are many of them funny, but they make an array of excellent points concerning plastics’ benefits and the real price our society would pay – to our economy, energy efficiency, health, safety and security – if there really were no plastics. There are good and practical reasons why plastic is so prevalent as the material of choice — benefits that are not always readily apparent.

You will also find comments on the article by those who are extremely, fiercely anti-plastic. We try to engage with them, perhaps dispel some myths and point out facts, but realize that changing their minds is unlikely. Of course, SPI member companies continue to work within the existing regulatory architecture to insure that products made from plastics are safe. Additionally, our industry has a keen interest, and is already highly involved, in becoming more sustainable and we are eager to engage with consumers and talk openly with them about our products. In fact, use the comment field below!

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