I wrote this article for Associated Content and they rejected it? Hmmmm
Am I Responsible for the BP Oil Spill?
How the BP Oil Spill Affects Me
The devastation being experienced on the southern coastline as seen on television makes me wonder when and where it will spread further. Will the giant plumes of crude oil and methane and it's after maths eventually travel around the tip of Florida from the Gulf of Mexico and begin to move up the Atlantic coastline? How will the problem affect me?
My heart goes out to all the folks in the area who are being directly affected. I have come to realize we will all be indirectly affected as soon prices rise. So is there anything I can personally do to help the situation?
We, each and every one of us, no matter our age are all partially responsible. We are the consumers of plastic. We buy the products that are created from the tar balls and crude oil that is now endangering the coast line and the waters of the southern states.
Plastic is a derivative petroleum. We use plastic all day long and don't stop to think where it came from. There is not a plastic moth weaving plastic bags, clothing tags and wrapping. Plastic is made from the oil coming out of the oil wells.
The history of plastic is relatively short and only about 150 years old. Plastic was first made in the late 1855's. Plastic was cellulose based meaning derived from plant cell walls and called Parkesine. Parkesine was later called celluloid. In the 1950's another form of plastic was made from petroleum. Petroleum based plastic have now become a common product in most every home on the planet.
The technological road from oil field to finished plastic product has numerous fascinating side trips. Here's the route taken in the petroleum-to-plastics process. Petroleum is drilled and transported to a refinery. Crude oil and natural gas are refined into ethane, propane, hundreds of other petrochemical products and, of course, fuel for vehicles. Ethane and propane are turned into ethylene and propylene using high-temperature furnaces. Catalyst is combined with ethylene or propylene in a reactor, resulting in a powdered material (polymer) resembling laundry detergent. Fluff is combined with additives in a continuous blender. Polymer is fed to an extruder where it is melted. Melted plastic is cooled then fed to a pelletizer that cuts the product into small pellets. Pellets are shipped to customers. Customers manufacture plastic products by using processes such as extrusion, injection molding, blow molding, etc.
So I ask you to stop and think how many times you touch plastic during the day. Right now I am typing on plastic keys and have a plastic mouse. I opened a new package of under ware today from a plastic package. My half and half for my coffee had a plastic spout and my coffee grinder and coffee maker are plastic. The oatmeal jar has a plastic lid. The organic greens I will have for lunch are in a plastic tub. My salad dressing has a plastic lid. The shrimp I am planning on having in my salad is in a plastic bag (I bought 3 bags thinking the price of shrimp will go up because so much of the shrimp we eat is from the affected area and will not be safe to eat or not available at all). I then will garden with my plastic hand tools and wheel barrel. Get the point? Now don't get me wrong. Plastic is not a bad thing. But is there an alternative that would not come from the oil industry making us less dependent on oil products?
I admit to being part of the problem all along. I buy plastic goods unconsciously and do not think I am adding to the problem. What moi? Yes, my name is The Frugal Fraulein and I am a plastic consumer.
What if each home did a 30 day plastic free test? The oil companies would certainly get a direct message that we are all part of the problem and that we are all willing to make changes in our daily habits.
How can we all begin to make choices that are plastic free? We must all stop being part of the problem. First we have to be conscience of what products we use. The spatula you reach for to flip the eggs might be plastic. The handle on the pan might be plastic. The wrapping around the napkins might be plastic then the there is the plastic bags the trash is held in. Library books are covered in plastic. We are surrounded by plastic.
A plastic ban would have to be a big movement. Many people could be involved from the producers of goods to the packagers, to the shippers to the stores right down the chain to the consumers.
What difference would it make if we just changed a few things in our daily routine? Let's come up with a list of suggestions.
1. Do not buy any more plastic items for 30 days.
2. Choose food items not packaged in plastic but packaged in paper and cellulose products.
3. Use paper bags for lunches and waxed paper or reusable cloth sandwich bags.
4. Use homemade toothpaste to replace plastic held toothpaste.
5. Get a toothbrush with a wooden handle and natural bristles.
6. Hmmm. Could you use real cash instead of plastic credit cards for 30 days?
7. Have a family meeting and ask everyone to go to their rooms and count 10 plastic items. I realized that even my earrings had plastic backings and to turn on the lights I had to touch a plastic wall plate.
8. Raise the consciousness of family, friends and co-workers and be an example to them by talking about plastic alternatives and reducing the amount of plastic you use.
9. There is a commercial that states a years worth of plastic water or beverage bottles would go around the earth how many times? Yikes get a stainless steel water container and don't be part of the problem.
10. How large is the plastic flotilla in the ocean?
11. How many animals, fish and birds are killed each year from plastic containers?
12. Lesser grade plastics are thought to cause cancer, illnesses and possibly death to humans and nonhumans and we still use it.
What are we thinking? Are we thinking? Obviously not. We are all part of the problem and it is up to each one of us to take small steps to change. What will you do?