Don't Miss Out

Subscribe to OCA's News & Alerts.

Care What You Wear

Plastic May Be Horrible For the Environment, But Could We Survive Without It?

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Food Safety page, Cloths for a Change page and our All About Organics page.

Move over, cotton; turns out that plastic is really The Fabric of Our Lives®. Does the pervasiveness of plastics in our culture get under your skin? If so, read Susan Freinkel's just-published Plastic: A Toxic Love Story. You'll realize that it's probably also in your skin, in the form of phthalates, BPA, and other possible endocrine disrupters that leach out of plastic products and into our bodies.

Oh, and it's on your skin, too, if you're wearing nylon, polar fleece, pleather, or any of those trademarked textiles owned by Tea Party funders Charles and David Koch: Spandex, Dacron, Thermolite, Cordura, Tactel, CoolMax. It's enough to make a progressive sweat.

In fact, plastic permeates our lives to an astonishing degree for a product that's barely a century old, as Freinkel's thoughtful, even-handed analysis reveals. You may despise this diabolically durable man-made material, as many of us do; the word "plastic" has become shorthand for anything artificial, cheap, shoddy, disposable. But could you really live without it? 

Though plastic litters our landscapes, clogs our waterways, chokes our wildlife, and messes with our metabolism, it also forms the foundation of our convenience-obsessed consumer culture. Plastics are "the lubricant of globalization," in the words of Charles Moore, the sailor who stumbled upon the Great Pacific Garbage Patch back in 1997.