Recently I read an article in the Independent about Thomas Smith, the chemistry PhD student from Manchester who apparently ‘gave up’ plastic for six months - and he’s not the only one giving it a go. There are a growing number of individuals, collectively known by the term ‘Plasticarians’, where the common denominator is they are all trying to live a plastics-free life for varying reasons ranging from environmental concerns to reported health benefits.
Like the others before him, Mr Smith found his six-month ‘boycott’ of plastics somewhat a challenge. "It can be quite difficult to find fruit and veg not wrapped in plastic, he told The Independent on Sunday. “Toiletries were also hard, toothbrushes and toothpaste; It led to me making my own soap," he continued.
"Internet shopping was difficult because anything that comes through the post is usually wrapped in plastic; even going to a concert and buying a drink was hard. It arrived in a plastic container."
The latter mentioned difficulties Mr Smith encountered would be the tip of a very tall and imposing iceberg if one attempted to truly live a plastics-free life, for reasons not only involving the high levels of hygiene, health care and food preservation the 21st century dictates and we have become accustomed to, but the way we communicate, receive our utility supplies and build our infrastructure to name but a few.
Plastic is crucial, it is innovative and it is essential. And yes, it goes without saying that with so much plastic being used for so much on this planet, we are going to have to step up and becoming much more effective when it comes to its disposal, as well as further research and investigation into alternative and innovative materials for production. Of course, there are areas in which plastic can be cut down, reduced and even eliminated all together, but there will be another product emerging that will utilise that plastic in its place. So instead of hating plastic and attempting to abstain from even its mere touch, let’s please embrace it, marvel at it and appreciate that a life without plastics would certainly not advance our society, but absolutely hinder it.