Saturday, July 30, 2011
Tree Growing Plastic Fruit?
The last time I was in Hawaii, I was told to go to the windward side of the island, there I would find the plastic debris floating in like seaweed. I knew I found my destination when I saw the Plastic Fruit Tree. Someone went to great pains to create this work of plastic art. I studied it from every angle then began looking further down the coastline. Sure enough, as I walked, I watched the plastic roll in like dead seaweed.
This past week in the C&EN Magazine - Chemical and Engineering News published by the American Chemical Society, had an article titled, "Perserving Plastic Art." Ironically, plastics designed to be "everlasting," do not keep well in museums. Apparently, the best place to "get rid of plastic" is in art museums. "Oxygen, light, and water in the air" cause the plastics to breakdown. and while doing so, "Sometimes the breakdown molecules float over to nearby artifacts, inciting corrosion, staining, or degradation." If plastic is doing this in museums, what is it doing sitting in our food closets? Where are the chemicals leaching, into our food, into us? Could the chemical "corrosion" be another factor to why "1 of 2 men; 1 of 3 women will develop some type of cancer in their lifetime," according to American Cancer Society. The more I learn about plastic, the more I am convinced that our food should NOT be touching it or even near it.
After learning this, it also made me think of how we typically dispose of plastic. Most of it we bury in landfills where it has none of the necessary elements for it to breakdown. (Of course breaking down does NOT mean going away). And then there is a large portion of it in our oceans where clearly there is plenty of O2, water, and light to break it down. The ocean, were this very processes is wreaking havoc on our marine life.