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GUEST COLUMN: A day without plastic

I’ve noticed a lot of backlash lately about plastic in our society. We use a lot of it and a lot of that ends up in the middle of the ocean. This is a serious problem and it needs to be dealt with. Will a ban on plastic straws and bags really help? I doubt it. We’ve grown too reliant on plastic.

I am a bit biased on the subject. Plastics manufacturing put food on my table for the past 30 years and has made all our lives easier. To prove my point, just try to go a day without touching plastic.

When you reach out to silence your alarm clock be very careful. Unless it’s antique, it’s made of plastic.

Roll out of bed and stumble into the bathroom and what do you see? Plastic everywhere. You can’t even brush your teeth. Most likely you can’t shower either. Hopefully, someone left the toilet seat up.

Check those labels while getting dressed. If it’s not 100 percent cotton, odds are it’s got some type of plastic in it. Maybe it’s a casual dress day. T-shirt and jeans. That’s me.

Is the coffee ready? Too bad you can’t pour yourself a cup. That carafe handle is plastic.

Cereal for breakfast? Pull that cardboard box down and look inside. What do you see? You see you’re going hungry today. Think you’ve got me beat by pulling out the cast iron pan and gathering fresh eggs from your chickens in the yard? How do you plan on turning your stove on? Go ahead and try. I’ll wait.

Maybe there’s some leftover pizza in the fridge. If you haven’t upgraded to stainless steel you can’t even open the door, but let’s take a break from our little game. I want you to open the door. When’s the last time you ever noticed how much plastic is in your refrigerator? It’s an incredible amount, isn’t it?

Since you can’t make yourself a sandwich without touching plastic why not just grab a banana and head out the door. I hope it’s a nice day for a walk. The exercise will do you good. According to the American Chemistry Council, 50 percent of the materials in a modern automobile is plastic. On the plus side, plastic is only 10 percent of the weight.

Should you finally make it to work without touching plastic there’s not much you can do. Phones, printers, computers, pens, all made of plastic. Heck, you probably can’t even sit down. I haven’t even mentioned the plastic in your vinyl floor or wall-to-wall carpeting. It’s going to be a very unproductive day without plastic.

I could go on and on about how dependent on plastic we have become. I started thinking about writing this column when I first heard about banning plastic straws. Plastic straws? They’re 95 percent air! Try telling your hospitalized loved one that they can’t have a drink of water because someone banned flexible straws.

Our use of plastic isn’t polluting the earth. Our irresponsible disposal of it is the problem. Forcing us to go backwards in time is not the answer. A lot of energy goes into making plastic and that energy can be extracted and reused. Plastic didn’t create our pollution troubles. Our own laziness did.

KEVIN FOSTER is a former Write Teamer who lives in rural Ottawa.

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