Thursday, June 17, 2010

The P Word - Plastic

More and more we are reading about the dangers of plastic in our lives.  The word is becoming a red flag with a negative spin making it the new P word.

Plastic is everywhere in our lives from our toothbrushes to the souls of our feet.  Our food is contained in plastic and our trash is collected in plastic containers.  Plastic, plastic everywhere and not a container good to drink with.

So what exactly is plastic?  Wikipedia tells us, “the common word plastic should not be confused with the technical adjective plastic which is applied to any material which undergoes a permanent change of shape when strained beyond a certain point.”  Some metals are considered plastic when bent but are not bent if broken. 

The word plastic comes from the Greek meaning capable of being shaped or molded.  There are two kinds of plastics: thermoplastics and thermosetting polymers.  Thermoplastics will melt when enough heat is applied and can be polyethylene, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride and polytetrafluorethylene.  Thermosets can melt and take shape once: after they have solidified, they stay solid.

Too many big words.  What is really important is that plastics are everywhere use.

In 1995 the Plastic Bottle Institute of the Society of the Plastics Industry (no I did not make this up) came up with a system to mark plastic according to plastic type in hopes of giving consumers more information to make choices with.  Plastic containers are marked with a triangle with arrows and a number in the center of the triangle.  The numbers correspond to the type of plastic.  The numbering system is used to sort plastic when it is sorted to recycle.

1.      Pet is commonly found in 2-liter soft drink bottles, water bottles, cooking oil bottles, peanut butter jars.
2.      HDPE is found in detergent bottles and milk jugs.
3.      PVC found in plastic pipes, outdoor furniture siding, floor tiles, shower curtains clamshell packaging.
4.      LDPE found in dry cleaning bags, produce bags, trash can liners and food storage containers.
5.      PP found in bottle caps, drinking straws, yogurt containers
6.      PS found in packing peanuts, cups, plastic tableware, meat trays, take-away food clamshell containers.
7.      There are also other types of plastics commonly found in certain kinds of food containers, Tupperware and Nalgene bottles.

I used to suggest that you look for water containers that were a number 7 and now I recommend you look for stainless steel that is not lined with plastic. We learn more and make changes.

I think I have a thing against plastic lately…the P word.


Katidids said...

We are really trying hard to clear all plastic out but, your right...its in everything! What grossed me out the mose was margarine! Designed to be a lubricant that would not hold its form....and some now eat it! UGH!

Anonymous said...

It would be nice if you posted a little more often. The last time you posted was on the 17th.