Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is the process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth by injecting highly pressurized fluids–including combinations of highly toxic chemicals–into the shale to release the trapped gas. The process was exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005, which means companies don’t even have to disclose the chemicals they use–chemicals which can contaminate ground water. Fracking has been linked to air and water pollution and even earthquakes.
But what does fracking have to do with plastic?
Most people still think that plastic is made from petroleum–oil. And much of it is. But in the United States, a large percentage of plastic is actually made from natural gas. Why? … Read the rest
If I asked you to list the problems with plastic, you might mention toxic chemicals like BPA or phthalates; or the fact that it doesn’t biodegrade; or that animals ingest it; or that there is a toxic soup of plastic swirling around in the world’s oceans. Those are the issues I’ve focused on for the past 5 years, so last year, when Moms Clean Air Force asked me to write a blog post for them, I balked. “Clean air is a vitally important environmental issue,” I said, “but my blog focuses on plastic, not air. Plus, I’m behind on writing my new book Plastic-Free and have no time to delve into other subjects.”
Silly me. As I researched the book, I learned about many ways that the life cycle of plastic contributes to air pollution, both indoor and out, and that reducing our plastic consumption will help to protect the air we breathe. So here are a few reasons why those of us concerned about reducing plastic… Read the rest
As an anti-plastics blogger, I should be able to write about the gulf oil spill in my sleep. The connections seem obvious. Plastic comes from oil. Our demand for plastic drives up the demand for oil, as do our demands for all the other products made from oil. I should be able to write about this topic as I would write about anything else related to plastic, things like Bisphenol-A, bottled water, PVC, phthalates, ocean plastic pollution, and yet until now, I couldn’t.
Like the vastness of the ocean itself and the incredible magnitude of the spill, the topic was just too big to wrap my heart around. It hurt too much. Somehow the thought of oil gushing relentlessly up from the earth into the ocean felt even more nightmarish to me than that of plastic pollution washed by the tons into the same oceans. What’s more, with all the commentary about whose fault it is, what methods should be used for clean up, and how the guilty parties should be … Read the rest
This just in: Oregon plastics recycler, Agri-Plas, has begun converting plastic waste back into crude oil. According to Businesswire, “the company recently delivered its first full tanker (8,200 gallons) of oil to a refinery in Tacoma, Wash., which translates to a final delivery of 196 barrels of oil.”
The method was developed by Plas2Fuel, a Kelso, Washington alternative energy company.
Until now, Agri-Plas has been a conventional plastics recycler, focusing on agricultural waste such as greenhouse film, nursery pots and plastic binder twine, as well as limited amounts of household plastic waste, which it recycles into other plastic products.
Now, the company is collecting dirty plastic materials which are unsuitable for traditional recycling for the plastic to oil process. And the state of Oregon has been a major supporter of the project, giving financial assistance through the Oregon Business Energy Tax Credit.
Right… Read the rest
By now, everyone has heard about the terrible oil spill in the San Francisco Bay last week. Friday, I stopped at the wharf on my way to the Green Festival, to see for myself. The smell was terrible. Like walking into a chemical factory, except it was outside! Oil floated on top of the water instead of ducks. And the boat that hit the Bay Bridge was still anchored out there like a bad dog tied to a stake. Here are a few of the photos I took on Friday:
And here’s a little irony:
Those who would like to help with the cleanup can sign up at SF Baykeeper. Just one more reason that we need to discontinue our dependence on oil, including oil used to make plastics.… Read the rest
Why avoid plastic? I originally wrote this post in July 2007, just one month into my plastic-free experiment. It’s now May 2015, and in the past 8 years, I have learned a lot more about plastic — where it comes from and what problems are associated with it. Here, then, is an updated summary of why I am still living plastic-free after all these years.
1) Plastic from fossil fuels
According to the U.S. Energy Energy Information Administration, “plastics are made from liquid petroleum gases (LPG), natural gas liquids (NGL), and natural gas. LPG are by-products of petroleum refining, and NGL are removed from natural gas before it enters transmission pipelines.” In 2010, about 191 million barrels of LPG and NGL and 412 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas were used in the United States to make plastic products.
And as we know, oil and gas are non-renewable resources, which means that if we don’t find alternatives… Read the rest