“There Is A Great Future In Plastics”

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(The post title comes from the movie “The Graduate” and conveys the attitude towards going into business for young people in the 1960’s)

Plastic was rare when I was a kid in the 1950’s. In fact, we associated plastic with cheap, flimsy and ugly. Nearly every item was made of wood, metal, glass or cardboard. Most liquids came in glass bottles, including bleach, shampoo, oils, juices and syrups. Toys were made mainly of wood or metal. My blocks were wood cubes. My doll furniture was wood, with a smattering of “cheap plastic.” Our Ferris wheel toy was made of sheet metal, as was our toy train. As I mentioned yesterday, my lunch box was metal. Most food came in cardboard boxes, as much of it does today. However, the boxes were never covered in plastic, nor did they have their contents wrapped in plastic inside the box.

Glass is of course breakable, and there were endless clean up jobs when one of us kids dropped something in the house. Metal edges can cut, and more than one toy wounded one of us. Cardboard doesn’t protect crackers from getting stale. On the other hand, crackers didn’t have a chance to go stale in our house with six people eating them!

So is the proliferation of plastic more beneficial or harmful?  We can see islands of plastic debris in the oceans, clearly a negative. We are beginning to examine the effects of plastic on the disruption of hormones in humans. There is some research about decreasing sperm count, for instance, in relation to the chemicals used to make plastic.

I realize that we are unlikely to return to the simple packaging of my childhood. However, it was a time of much less waste and much less negative effect on the world around us. All for the sake of “convenience.”

 

 

22 thoughts on ““There Is A Great Future In Plastics”

  1. I remember we used little paper straws with our cartons of milk at school. I wish they’d make paper straws again and ban the plastic ones which are so damaging to sea life.

    1. Do you remember those Flavor Straws that were paper with koolaid or something in them so that when you sipped you got a flavor? I too recently looked for paper straws and couldn’t find any.

        1. I just looked them up and they were Flavr_Straws. I remember then because my brother and I got sick from the strawberry milk from drinking too much of it.

  2. I am glad that we can buy things in bulk at the co-op in Woodstock NY near here, and bring our own containers for it, whether it’s liquid or grains. I think some things are insanely wasteful these days, like individually-wrapped toothpicks in restaurants–

  3. Stores and malls here are no longer using plastic bags. You can bring your own reusable bag or they wrap the items in paper bag. Grocery items except for canned goods are still packaged in plastic. Aren’t they harmful to the environment?

  4. I couldn’t agree more! I have chemical sensitivities, and most modern conveniences are a threat to me. I miss a lot of the old ways when things were made of natural materials. Just today I accidentally found out that “wrinkle free” fabrics are infused with formaldehyde. Ick!

    1. Yes. I had my grandmother’s porcelain doll which I have given to my granddaughter. It is now 130 years old! In the US plastic straws are still legal.

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