Earth Day 2011: The Stress of Plastic

If you are a certain age, and you hear the word, “plastic,” you might just provide an immediate flashback to the movie The Graduate, where Dustin Hoffman is told that plastic IS the future. As a budding environmental activist I have often wondered about the ecological concerns of plastic, from grocery bags to water bottles to the leaching of chemicals (e.g., phthalates) from plastics into our food and water supply. Indeed, plastic is the future, but this future is not all that rosy. In fact, it’s quite problematic. As a fan of Public Radio, this week I happen to hear two interviews with Susan Freinkel, author of the new book, Plastic: A Toxic Love Story. Originally, it was her idea to go a whole day and not touch any plastic. Within minutes of trying, she realized this was impossible; Tooth brushes, toilet seats, door handles, cell phones, Ipads; the list is endless. Her book looks at the good, bad and ugly of our culture of plastic products. Perhaps one of her most interesting remarks is that polyethylene and other types of plastic (all by products of fossil fuels and natural gas) are not inert. The chemical composition interacts with all around it, including fluids such as water and foods when heated in microwaves and Teflon pans. These chemicals interfere with our hormones, and God only knows what else it affects or causes (e.g., cancers, Alzheimer’s, infertility, birth defects, etc.). Although it’s hard to escape the presence of plastics, it would be in everyone’s best interest to read up on the history of plastic over the past 50 years and see just what is known and unknown about this ubiquitous by-product. And… it goes without saying how much plastic (e.g., discarded water bottles) are trashing the planet!

• Stress Tip For The Day:
Refuse to be part of the “throw away culture! Bring your own bags when shopping. Reuse whenever possible (e.g., Baggies, etc.). Recycle all plastic whenever possible. Don’t cook with Teflon. Buy natural chewing gum (they use plastic in gum now!) Don’t buy plastic water bottles— Use stainless steel water bottles instead. It’s hard to find food in glass containers when so many are packaged in plastic, but items like salad dressing and tomato sauce come to mind. Try to be a little more conscientious of your use of plastic, particularly water bottles. Refuse to be part of the “throw away culture!

• Links/Books/Movies Worth Noting:
I haven’t read Susan Freinkel’s book yet, but I intend to. If you are at all interested, I highly recommend you take a look at the interview transcripts from both Fresh Air and Amazon.

• Quote for the Day:
Modern technology owes ecology an apology.” ~Alan M. Eddison

“Don’t blow it—good planets are hard to find.” ~Quoted in Time

• Photo of the Day:
To honor Earth Day, I culled through my collection of photos to find THE image that spoke to my heart about Earth’s beauty today. This photo begged to be considered and I obliged. Happy Earth Day!

Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 10 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (6E). He can be reached through his

© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Brian Luke Seaward

Author Brian Luke Seaward

More posts by Brian Luke Seaward

Leave a Reply