My Mum used to say, “There are no bad dogs, just bad handlers.” As a kid growing up in rural surrounds we always had a pet dog to roam with. Be it a dachshund, a spaniel or a retriever or sometimes all three at once. But whatever the breed they all developed a great character, friendly with all, unless it was obvious that there was a threat to one of the family. That was thanks to how Mum handled them.
So, to me, that’s a bit like plastics. There’s about 70 different plastics and 80,000 grades according to Google, and we know what a mine of information he (oops….or she…or would that be googlette…I digress) is. It is solely due to poor planning, lack of foresight and complacency (In other words poor handling) on behalf of us, the homo sapiens, (Which funnily, is Latin for ‘wise man’, you couldn’t make it up.) of a relatively few types of plastic products that has led to all plastics being tarred with the same brush.
Bad plastics! Naughty plastics! You just can’t stop your plaggy bags from making a dash for the beach can you? And as for them plastic bottles just wandering off on their own……. You get my drift?
I had a quick tot up at home today. I quickly counted 40 items that were either entirely made of disposable plastic or contained disposable plastic components. And that was without even opening a cupboard.
Plastics, without a doubt make our life easier. If we had to replace all plastic components with a metal equivalent all our gear would be an awful lot heavier……………..and our wallets and purses an awful lot lighter. There are very few electrical items and phones that cannot operate without plastic. (and I don’t mean your flexible friend.)
It is a given that we can’t reuse or make out of second use plastic anything that is used in medicine or retail food packaging. Way too much of a risk in todays litigious times. But we can make decisions and change our behaviour in other areas that minimise the use and impact of using plastic.
It has recently been revealed that the retail food industry opted to tray up premium ready meals in plastic coloured with carbon black pigments. The meal marketing bureau (I made that up) decreed that black conveyed a message of premium, high quality, worth more on the shelf to the quality hungry shopper. But as the recyclers had opted for machines to which this material was invisible to optical sorting systems it meant that it all had to go to landfill. This can be overcome by using detectable black colourants, I am reliable informed. So that is a homo sapien issue not a bad boy plastics issue.
Does anyone wake up in the morning and feel that their day is now going to be worse because plastic bags cost 5p? No, me neither. In fact, I prefer the reusable bags, a lot stronger, and I got mine free which helped.
The negatives associated with plastics are a condemnation of our own behaviour. Plastics do benefit us as a species. Just look around you. They make is possible to make sterile lifesaving equipment cheaply enough for them to be single use thus reducing infection rates. The weight saving benefits of plastics has contributed massively to reducing the costs of running our cars, vans and transport fleets.
Plastics that can’t be recycled can be cleanly burnt and converted into heat, energy and electrical power. That has got to be infinitely better than ploughing it into grotesque landfill sites with a bulldozer or watching it cloggin’ up the ‘oggin.
So if you’re looking for someone to blame for the plastic pollution that currently blights us, we brought it on ourselves, remember it was us homo sapiens that created it and sucked up its benefits, of which there are many. Not all plastics are naughty boys, just the few that we misuse and abuse. A bit like a dog really.
Opinions are my own. Facts drawn from various sources.