Saturday, February 4, 2017

Plastic Garbage

I was just washing the carrier/car seat for a new baby in the family.
Of course, the car seat is made entirely out of it.
I was thinking about how convenient it was, how it cleans nicely and drains and dries quickly.

I thought about a wonderful cetacean that died in Norway because his stomach filled up with non-digestible plastic bags to the point he couldn't eat anything anymore.

Actual content of the whale's stomach. A more gory picture in a link provided above

Then I remembered my husbands' camera bag, made out of recycled plastic fibre.
It's made from "garbage", but it's really aesthetically pleasing as far as camera bags go. And although he bought it almost a decade ago, it is still in amazing shape. Nothing wrong with it. Endurance is one of plastics' prime virtues. The same virtue makes it almost non-degradable, destined to linger in our biosphere for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

I remember that the bag made from "trash" was actually more expensive than a bag from "fresh", virgin material.

I remembered reading about Adidas making this ultra modern shoe from ocean plastic, like the bags that killed the Norway whale, and probably hundreds of thousands other sea creatures a year. Adidas hopes to make a million pairs of these, and also hopes to abandon virgin material in production altogether eventually.

It's a wonderful idea really, to use the ocean pollution as a material. The amount of waste plastic present on sea and land - we globally produce cca. +-275 MILLION metrics tons a year, of which up to 12 million end up in oceans - would probably sustain the industry for years.

But WHY do they cost the harsh 220$ a pair?

Alright, I figure you could say that it's so cheap to order crude new polymers.
That there's a lot of work in cleaning and sorting the ocean garbage.
That recycling itself with it's procedure and losses has a cost too.


Not a long while ago we payed for two large mackerel fishes - all cleaned and prepared and roasted - for one euro.
These mackerels also came from a sea far, far away.
They where "harvested" (w/ plastic nets), separated, sorted, cleaned, disemboweled, traded, frozen; transported by ships and by trucks; bought by a supplier company, packed (in a plastic bag); then they where thawed, spiced up, grilled and packed (in plastic foil) and sold to us. For one euro. And our local store is not even nearly the most budget-friendly. It could go even cheaper.

I'm aware that it's a bit forced to compare a price of a "product" created by nature and that of a product created by industry and it's technology. But considering devastating effects of it's manufacturing on our health and environment, the cheapness of crude plastics is a really bizarre occurrence anyway. And recycled... Well that's another story. Or not?

It is really hard for me to believe that it is right (as in "correct" and as in "moral") for this superstar recycled running shoe to be, not two or three, but ten times more expensive than it's crude cousins.

A part of me is thrilled that this is being done, that any amount of plastic garbage is being pulled out of the ocean and used instead of crude polymers.

On the other hand, making environmentally-friendly products elitist doesn't make any sense and it's damaging for the cause in the long run. As long as corporations are making extra (extra-extra) cash on "green" branding, I don't see them on our side.

You and I can't do D.I.Y recycling though. Recycling is a big game, and big games are the industry's games. They are monsters of profit, and that includes cashing in on our poor planet's horrible state.

We mortals have the other two Rs left:
Reduce (that is, don't use).
Any time you can.
Remember, it lasts almost forever!

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