Living without plastics

Full story: Chicago Tribune

Amid a recent flurry of worrisome reports about plastic, a simple question came up: Could we live without it? Could my typical family - a mom, a dad, a 3-year-old girl and a 7-month-old boy - put aside the very ...
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1 - 20 of 56 Comments Last updated Jan 22, 2009
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Barbara

United States

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#1
Dec 27, 2008
 
I am of the traditional generation. You did a good job. But there is nothing like real cotton diapers (with diaper service). The pampers are OK is you are on a trip where you do not want to carry a bag of dirty diapers, but we did just fine with them. My children came along before pampers. Just ask your grandmother about living without plastic. I do not like plastic when I see it in the trees killing the birds, and in the water killing the fish.
Please try again and have your friends do it with you, or your children friends parents. Make a group party out of it.

Good Luck from Chicago Ill.
Hamilton

United States

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#2
Dec 27, 2008
 
This article avoids the obvious: Plastic is recyclable and can be reused in so many products that enhance living, like taking old plastic milk bottles and melting them down to make wood substitute boards for outdoor decks, thereby saving trees. Many restaurants and stores now use bio-degradable "plastic" bags made from corn rather than petroleum. Think back to life before plastic, such as glass bottles. Think that those bio-degrade in landfills? The answer is not to boycott plastic: it's to use it wisely, recycle it, and support the bio-degradable forms. And maybe provide the complete picture rather than a one-sided one in "news" articles. By the way, my Sunday Tribune ads come wrapped in...plastic. Is the writer boycotting the Tribune also?
Rogue Zebra

Vernon Hills, IL

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#3
Dec 27, 2008
 
The real question is not how much plastic but how much consumption is enabled because of plastic. Without plastic, food would spoil and the carbon footprint would be much higher. Places such as Africa where 30 % of the food spoils before it reaches the market would benefit from plastic. However, we suffer because it makes consuming so easy and cheap that we can eat and drink anytime and anywhere. Avoiding plastic means less convenience which means less eating /drinking which may be good for many people.
PMD

Jacksonville, FL

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#4
Dec 27, 2008
 
Think about this too

One trip to the grocery store to buy food items wrapped/packaged in plastic

Or several trips to several different stores to buy fresh items not wrapped/packaged in plastic

What is the net impact, in terms of how much petroluem is consumed?
Rapier

Chicago, IL

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#5
Dec 27, 2008
 
The author begins the artical with addition and ends it with guilt. The article is short on plastic use research. Try living without it and see how long you will live.
Chicago native

Maywood, IL

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#6
Dec 27, 2008
 
You should try regular cotton diapers with --horrors!-- plastic panties. Yes, they are plastic, but they wash up as easy as 1,2,3. You just throw them in the bathroom sink with some hot water & a little soap, or into the washing machine with the rest of the family's underwear. The diapers collect in a diaper pail and get washed every other day or so. No, it doesn't stink up the house.

It's easy! Just set the washer on pre-wash with the hottest water available, add your detergent, and voila! Beautifully clean diapers each & every day at little or no cost.

So you trade plastic diapers for an extra load of laundry with water, soap, and electricity. I honestly think the plastic disposables are worse, especially if you have a newer washing machine. I have an LG which is extremely energy and water efficient, plus it has a sanitizing cycle that heats the water even hotter.

Unrealistic? No. My first child wore disposable diapers because we lived in a tiny apartment w/ no laundry facilities. However, my other 3 children all wore cloth diapers which I laundered at home. And, no, I'm not a stay-at-home mom.

Many of us had grandmothers that worked, and they took care of their families WITHOUT plastic. So maybe we should ask ourselves WWGD - what would Grandma do?
EJ from Palatine

Chicago, IL

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#9
Dec 27, 2008
 
This article is written with the perspective that plastic is bad and we need to eliminate our use of plastic. Who gave the writer such a silly notion? Does this writer really think plastic is bad? Does the Trib really pay someone to write this? Who was laid off so this kind of content could be saved?

Ex-subscriber (30 years)
2ndAmendment

United States

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#10
Dec 27, 2008
 
The evils of plastic?! You got to be out of your friggin mind. You envrio-ninnies want noting more than for the human race to revert back to the middle ages. Yep, life was so much better then. One was lucky to live to be forty. Please, for the sake of the rest of us, the next time you need any type of medical treatment, refuse any treatment that involves plastic. That should help weed out the gene pool.
Reality

Glen Ellyn, IL

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#11
Dec 27, 2008
 
another stupid article.

To go without plastic you'd have to live in a cave or tree. There is lots of plastic in every building. You couldn't drive a car, ride a bus/plane, or ride a bike. You'd have no food since it's used in the equipment to grow and harvest food and transport, refrigerate, etc.

Get real!
Cate

United States

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#12
Dec 27, 2008
 
I'm glad that this "experiment" has changed some of your behaviors and your perspectives on consumption.
I will say that I probably make less than half what you do annually and took baby steps to move to be plastic free: it doesn't have to "break the bank."
I irritate the checkout people at grocery stores by not using their produce bags and carrying my own, my kids also use stainless steel, my 9-month-old is in Bum Genius diapers (which NEVER leak for us, plus they're cloth and very "disposable-shaped") , and I have the luxury of shopping locally for produce (very locally; within 5 miles at times!), and I have chickens running around my backyard for fresh eggs.
I'm trying. I'm not perfect, but I have taken small steps over the past year, especially with the fears of BPA and phthalates and they're endocrine-disrupting effects on children. I was pretty much scared into the major changes.
I think others had very valid points: we must watch our consumption overall. It doesn't make sense to avoid petroleum-based plastics but drive twice as much to get food that is perishable because it's not stored in plastic bags. I also think that Americans are innovative enough that there will be alternatives over the next couple of years. And one step that reduces consumption of fuel and supports local farming is buying into CSA (community-supported agriculture). You get locally grown, seasonal produce with one trip by the farmer, generally to a public meeting place.
American consumption must change or the rest of the world will never think they have to. We should lead by example, not shake our fingers at developing, polluting countries and say "tsk, tsk." Actually, those of us who are working on greening our lives should never do that; what a turn-off!
ru4real

United States

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#13
Dec 27, 2008
 
We lived without plastic years ago, we can live without plastic again. Sure, there are things that plastic is really necessary.but insignificant items such as grocery bags, which we all have become accustomed to use could be replaced IF people would use reusable type bags. This would help cut down on the trash in land fills.
I really don't profess to know the answer, however conservation of this planet is a goal that we all should be concerned with our environment, & preserve as much of it that is humanly possible for future generations.
2ndAmendment

United States

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#14
Dec 27, 2008
 
Nothing better than life without flush toilets! We did it before, we can do it again.

The evil that is plastic.
Just the Facts

Westmont, IL

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#15
Dec 27, 2008
 
When I was a kid delivering the Chicago Tribune on my bicycle, on rainy days we would put the papers in wax coated bags. Nowadays the paper is put in plastic bags. Why not switch back to wax?
Monty

Chicago, IL

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#17
Dec 27, 2008
 
I don't think anyone can argue with trying to minimize plastic consumption. If you love your country, then why would you behave in a way that selfishly diminishes it?

Agreed you cannot remove plastic entirely because it is used in so many beneficial ways. But that does not mean that all uses of plastic are necessary. Surely we can find unneeded uses in our daily lives.
Firstname Lastname

Chicago, IL

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#19
Dec 27, 2008
 
That was a wonderful experiment in creating awareness of how much plastic is consumed in one's daily life.

Of course no one can eliminate plastic, it's everywhere, but one can reduce plastic consumption, and the first step is finding out and paying attention to when and where one uses plastic.
2ndAmendment

United States

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#20
Dec 27, 2008
 
To be honest, I simply do not understand the fear of plastic? What in the world is wrong with it? Ooo... It doesn't degrade in a landfill. So what? Most things don't. What, in a few years are you expecting the landfills to become a nice pile of fluff to turn into a vegetable garden? Folks would do well to learn some real science and forget about the latest pop-culture, carbon footprint, pseudo-science that is seems to pass as fact these days.
Independent Voter Joliet

Joliet, IL

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#21
Dec 27, 2008
 
I agree that plastic is a great for certain things... however there are many times when they replaced perfectly good packaging with plastic.. I preferred my Pepsi in GLASS bottles (not cans either), as I do (and still buy) my milk.. However, stores and companies decided it was to much work for them to keep this practice up.. there was a diffinate better taste of many of our foods we now have in plastic bottles.. meats packaged in butchers paper gets dried out if frozen that way..and since most of us buy in advance we freeze our meat for the week.. or longer.. plastic also is better for freezing or saving left overs in.. pampers are one of the best uses of plastic and if you use the plastic bags from the stores to wrap the pamper in are you not recycling?? same goes for using these bags for cleaning after a pets,lining small trash cans around the house, hanging in your car for trash etc... plastic bags for garbage second most wonderful use of plastic..it contains the smell and bacteria that would otherwise be airborne..storage totes a much better way to store items.. etc..
I do wish however they would go back to glass for some items.. such as soda, milk, and companies would recycle them this could create a few more jobs and people would turn them in at the stores (even kids) for the deposit.. problem is many of our tubes such as toothpaste, etc.. use to be made of aluminum quite costly now.. however it was easier to squeeze more of the product out..
I dare say plastic has a place in this world.. but not IN our food nor our cooking utensils or in anything that will be heated so there's a chance the plastic will start to break down...
EJ from Palatine

Chicago, IL

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#22
Dec 27, 2008
 
I minimized my use of plastic bags by dropping my 30 year Trib subscription. I'm saving trees, no plastic and liberals are getting laid off. Three birds with one stone!

Since: Nov 08

United States

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#24
Dec 27, 2008
 
This is a very interesting article. Everybody talks about going Green but they all want the lights to go on when they use the switch. Imagine how incredibly better our world would be without plastic.
plastic wastes oil

Eugene, OR

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#26
Dec 27, 2008
 
using oil for things like diapers is like taking a van gogh painting and using it for toliet paper.
<br> oil is a precious resource that we can make into all kinds of amazing things, like IV bags in a hospital. we should conserve our oil for important things and quit wasting it on yogurt containers. <br> when gas goes up again, this time to $5 a gallon, you'll wish there was less plastic diapers and more oil used for gas.

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