Can we use something other than Plastic?

Plastic packaging is conveniently easy to manufacture and distribute making it desirable to manufacturing companies. Until the time comes to open that plastic protecting the cookies that were recently brought home from the market. They are engineering marvels designed with a built-in alarm system to sound an alert upon opening. Loud crackles, snaps and pops the crunching and of course the cursing of whoever invented this thing. Some packages are sealed on the edges as we are all aware, those created a cottage industry of sorts. A slicing knife type of tool with the blade hidden in a shepherds crook tip to eliminate a nasty cut. The tool follows the outline of the plastic bubble slicing off the seal running the parameter. After opening a few of them with scissors, or a kitchen knife the gadget looks inviting. Unpacking the items are a mere inconvenience, the actual problem is disposal.

bird
Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

However how to dispose of the stuff is not what this article is about, we will take a look at some plastic alternatives, what can take the place of it? Zero waste is becoming a goal that is becoming more popular each year. Part of that is not just recycling or reusing materials that have been salvaged but to move away from the use of plastics altogether. Most of us have heard of the 5 ocean Gyros collecting plastic waste, one the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is located between the United States and Asia. A swirling soup, it’s not an island, of partially broken down plastics. That is a situation that will plague our Earth for future generations, there are materials we can use instead of plastic, some we can start today.

Plastic water bottles are a major contributor and actually easy to replace with aluminum or steel. A stainless steel thermos works great there is plenty of water and it retains temperature. Whatever vessel is chosen it may be conveniently filled either by the municipal water system or a larger bottle.

boxed-water-is-better-1464043-unsplash
Photo by Boxed Water Is Better on Unsplash

Other Plastic bottles, when shopping look for liquid products sold in tin, glass, or aluminum containers. They are all bio-degradable and readily recyclable.
Some products are available in bulk, not only food but mineral spirits and kerosene, in those cases either a steel or aluminum container made for handling combustibles may be used many times over then recycled. Glass is not acceptable for the transportation of flammables.

Straws are available in unique materials. Polylactic acid is one made of plant starches and oil, corn is the predominant source. Made from plant material this material decomposes in a waste facility within six months. Paper, Hay, and Bamboo all renewable and readily available these materials decompose in a reasonable amount of time as well.

When shopping for clothing choose natural fibers such as cotton, silk, wool, cashmere, and hemp. Fabrics blended with polyesters do not fully break down, the fibers of the plastic are released with most finding a path to the oceans and detrimental to marine wildlife. Recycled plastic is being re-purposed as fabric to make clothing from, on the surface, it’s a good means of permanently being rid of it. That, however, is not the case the plastic in the fabric is still intact and when the item is of no further use into the trash it goes. A major part of the problem is most of us don’t realize that it is still plastic.

The demand for Shoes increases each year 5%, it is estimated by the year 2025 50 billion pair will be the demand. They are constructed from a variety of materials, most notably leather, but others are made of synthetic (plastic) materials either in whole or part. This is one industry that is constantly looking for environmentally friendly solutions to petroleum-based products. The uppers are commonly made of cotton, hemp, and pineapple leaf fibers. Insoles of Castor oil and soles made of Coir (Coconut husk fibers mixed with natural rubber), Cork and Corn are used also.

hemp shoes
Hemp Shoes, a bit odd perhaps?

A hurdle when working towards zero waste is what to do with the plastic, everything else is relatively easy to recycle. Cardboard, newspaper, and kitchen waste can be used in the garden for mulch and nutrients. Composting is an easy and efficient way to deal with organic waste, and recycling of aluminum, steel and non-ferrous metals such as copper is common. But plastic is the toughest, that first toothbrush we owned is still somewhere in its original state, it will greet our great-grandkids, and for whoever follows them for 500 years.

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog, I appreciate that you took the time.

Jacques Lebec Natural Self Reliance

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