Life without plastic: Can it be done?

Photo by dotjay |

Not too long ago, the rapidly increasing use of plastic in the production of a countless number of items (ranging from children’s toys to milk crates) was considered quite a remarkable accomplishment, considering its unique chemical properties and resulting versatility.  Sitting in my living room, I cannot identify a single object within my line of sight that does not contain plastic in some shape or form. 

Don’t get me wrong – I truly believe that the world we have come to recognize would be astonishingly different without the widespread use of plastic, particularly in terms of overall quality of life (think of the role plastic plays in housing construction and pharmaceuticals, for example). 

The big question is: Why (and how) has plastic gained this bad reputation amongst environmentalists and health activists over the years, and what can be done to either abolish this reputation or eliminate plastic as a dominant material in our society?

As an avid reader of articles featured by The Starfish, you have likely already predicted that this question fails to yield a straightforward answer.  But what we do know is that the potential dangers of plastics have been made clear from both the health and environmental standpoints.  Perhaps you’ve discarded what you believed to be a perfectly safe water bottle because you discovered it contained Bisphenol A, a known endocrine disruptor.  Once disposed of, however, plastic typically persists for hundreds of years (or even longer) in the environment.  Counterarguments and absolute validity aside, we see that it has become virtually impossible for Canadians to avoid encounters with plastic.  Luckily, one team who recently appeared at Toronto’s Green Living Show is here to help.

Life Without Plastic is an organization dedicated to reducing the amount of plastic consumed by people going about their lives.  They, too, are aware of the negative environmental consequences arising from plastic production, consumption, and disposal.  Instead of using common items made with plastic, they opt to sell plastic-free items, such as wooden toothbrushes and stainless steel straws.

To see how it works, and to check out other ideas, visit "Life without Plastic" or "Earthworks Pottery" - all quite innovative, if I do say so myself…I may just have to make a purchase or two.

Maybe we are still far from completely eliminating plastics from our homes and the environment (if you can even fathom that), but I think companies such as Life Without Plastic are nudging us in the right direction.  After all, plastic is a key component in, well, almost everything.  Perhaps one day plastic will be as “taboo” as CFCs in refrigerators or DDT on crops…we’ll see.