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Plastics

What You Can Do

Published on January 15, 2014 under Plastics
Single-Use Plastic Shopping Bags Let's start with the most obvious: plastic bags. Once manufactured, recycling these bags is a great way to reduce plastic waste. However, plastics are not truly recyclable. The "recycling" process yields a lower grade, less flexible material of limited usefulness. It draws on valuable energy and produces pollution, including climate-changing gasses. A viable solution is to get canvas bags and use them. Just possessing such bags and leaving them behind - and I know some of you who do - won't do the trick. If you keep forgetting them in your car, force yourself to walk…
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General Information About Plastics

Published on January 15, 2014 under Plastics
Permanency and Non-renewability Plastics are made from non-renewable petroleum and natural gas. (1) With the exception of plastics that have been incinerated (bad idea! - as plastics release ¬†toxic substances when burnt), all plastics ever manufactured is still with us. (2) Nothing in nature, not even sunlight or oxygen, can break apart the bonds that hold plastics together, so they linger on our planet indefinitely. Rather than biodegrading, plastics photodegrade into tiny particles, winding up in soil, air, our food and our bodies. (3) Environmental Pollution Plastic manufacturing is a major source of industrial pollution. Producing a 16-oz. #1 PET…
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Plastic alert from outer space

Published on December 16, 2007 under Plastics
By HILDEGARD SELLNER Originally appeared in the Juneau Empire on December 16, 2007. Sept. 19, 2006. High alert on the space shuttle Atlantis. The crew had just spotted a mysterious object that had apparently fallen off the ship. Upon transmission of a photo to Cape Canaveral, the shuttle program manager, Wayne Hale, speculated: "The question is: What is it? Is it something benign? ... Or is it something more critical we should pay attention to?" To the relief and amusement of all involved, the particular object appeared to be "just a plastic bag," most likely from the shuttle's open payload…
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It’s easy to see the dangers of letting plastics into the ocean

Published on November 11, 2007 under Plastics
By HILDEGARD SELLNER Originally appeared in the Juneau Empire on November 11, 2007. "Didn't you see it coming? What did you do?" I began plaguing my grandmother with those two questions when I first learned about Hitler and the Third Reich. My German grandma had lived through the Nazis' rise to power and the war. Her answers to my questions showed resignation and helplessness. "I tried not to think about it," she said. "There was nothing I could have done, anyway." She said the German people kept their heads down, hoping it would soon be over. "I didn't find out…
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The recyclable plastic bag is a myth

Published on October 8, 2007 under Plastics
By MIHAEL BLIKSHTEYN and HILDEGARD SELLNER Originally appeared in the Juneau Empire on¬†October 08, 2007. The issue of fluoridation is behind us, and so is the flood of letters it solicited. "The Simpsons Movie" is long gone, too, leaving in the wake a bitter taste of no easy escape from every-day reality. Emerging from that world, we were wondering what would be next. A week ago, we came across a letter written by the senior managing director of Progressive Bag Alliance, responding to our weekly Turning the Tides column, in which we encourage people to stop using plastic bags. We…
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