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The World Was Duped

The big plastic lie revealed

By Christina HunterPublished 3 years ago 3 min read
The World Was Duped
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Plastic, originally named bakelite by it's inventor Baekeland, was created in 1909 if you can believe it. But our love for plastic didn't explode onto the scene until the middle of the century, when women began working outside of the home, and the consumer industry had a lightbulb moment that they packaged and sold as "convenience".

We were then thrust into a plastic overload of pretty packages that would help to make our lives easier. The labels summoned us with promises like "ready-made" and "single-use". We ate it up, literally. There was another promise on each package too; one that we told ourselves with each purchase had to be true. After all it had the symbol right there at the bottom corner. It's recyclable.

It became a mantra for grade school classrooms, teachers patting themselves on the back for their love of the Earth. Colorful cardboard letters were strung beside welcome signs that read "WE RECYCLE". City parks and municipal buildings created three separate garbage bins with block letters reading "PAPER", "PLASTIC" and "WASTE". But if you've ever peered inside those separated bins you'll notice one glaring issue - they're all black garbage bags, which we know end up in one place, and one place only.

But the slogan "WE RECYCLE" had all the feels. It meant we could continue to consume all the garbage-producing products with no guilt because at the end of the week a blue truck stops at the end of our drive-ways and takes our packaging to be recreated into something new again.

While it's becoming taboo to even tell that little fib anymore, some companies still hold strong when pressured about the materials of their packaging. They'll answer angry emails and social media boycotts with a condescending response to the effect of "it's 100% recyclable." Do they really believe that though? Because we were all duped for decades to believe this lie. But we've turned a corner. We're opening our eyes to the lie en masse. We once believed that every flimsy film on a sour cream container turned into something else. Every coffee cup lid and all those laundry soap jugs must turn back into another product. We believed it because if not, then we have a really big problem on our hands, and it's not just the waste issue, it's the blatant lie on the packaging which may as well say "safe to consume packaging".

The ugly truth is that only 9% of plastics will actually be re-created into something new, and I think we can all guarantee it's not the flimsy film on a sour cream container. To make matters worse, the lucky 9% that do get created into something else only get a go-around in our world of consumerism a total of nine times before they too end up in landfill.

This lie sometimes feels too big a burden to even grasp. It reaches even the most remote places on Earth as plastics are being discovered where no humans live. How is this possible? We've spent nearly 50 years addicted to this product that was promised to make our lives easier (and it did!), but without a governing body to enforce any restrictions it spiraled out of hand. So who is responsible for (literally) cleaning up this mess?

The lie has been exposed. The myth, busted. What we're left with now are serious implications, both to our own health and to the health of our planet. By the time my child is my age, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans. Our children were already born with microplastics inside of them before even taking their first breath on this planet. Some days it can feel like we've already lost. That the big lie swallowed us up with the world and it's impossible to correct now. But while we may not be able to correct what's been done, certainly we can stop current and future plans to produce more. It's evident the industry won't stop it, so we now have a job. The buck must stop with us. We can do this by:

  • Being louder than the convenience slogan they've shoved down our throats.
  • Refusing what they're selling if it doesn't meet our standards.
  • Living an authentic life and consuming only that which serves us (including what we eat, watch, read and who we interact with).
  • Demanding more from our Governments to create legislation that makes manufacturers responsible for the end-of-life of their packaging.
  • Bringing back the lesser known "R"'s they didn't teach you in school: Repair. Reuse. Refuse. Rot (compost) and I would add perhaps the most powerful one, Respond.

We are not consuming robots. We will respond to the task at hand, expose the lie. Demand change and change the future of our planet. In 1909 Baekeland created plastic. In 2021, society finally refused it.


About the Creator

Christina Hunter

Author, Mother, Wife. Recipient of the Paul Harris Fellowship award and 2017 nominee for the Women of Distinction award through the YWCA. Climate Reality Leader, Zero-Waste promoter, beekeeper and lover of all things natural.

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    Christina HunterWritten by Christina Hunter

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