Sustainability is about ecology, economy and equity.- Ralph Bicknese

How Much Plastic Is In Your Life?


How many plastic items can you reach out and touch right now? One certain item would be the screen you are reading this on. For me, I can also count my keyboard, my phone, my reusable coffee cup, my tape dispenser, and my belt. The more I look around, the more plastic I embedded into my daily life.

Continuing the dialogue following the plastic bag ban in Seattle, the Burke Museum takes a closer look at our relationship with plastic in its ongoing exhibit “Plastics Unwrapped.” Located on the University of Washington campus, this exhibit explores plastic’s interactions – both positive and negative – with human life, and how plastic technology is changing global culture.

We undeniably live in an age of plastic technology. Plastic can be found in every corner of our daily lives, from electronics to food packaging to the interior of our walls. It’s also found in surprising commodities like gum, face wash, kitchen sponges, and many more household items.

Many have also been studying  plastic’s potentially harmful effects. Plastic degrades very slowly, making it an environmental hazard, and some types may prove toxic. Business Ethics magazine states that one plastic bag can take anywhere from 10–100 years to degrade, and even then the plastic particles still exist. Others question the potential toxicity of certain plastic compounds, especially Bisphenol A (BPA), which the FDA banned from being used in bottles.

But, as one UW student points out, plastic has also greatly improved food safety and daily comfort. It is durable, versatile, and very convenient to use.

This exhibit explains why all of these things are true, and goes deeper into the economy, ecology, and history of plastics. The exhibit teaches visitors about the rise and the continuous impact of plastic technology on a global scale, including testimony from a Seattle woman who spent a month forgoing all plastic materials.

Click here for a coupon for $2 admission to this exciting exhibit. It goes until May 27, 2013.

Tell us your thoughts about the plastics industry in the comments below!

For more information about plastic pollution, click here and here.

Author: Sara Kenning

Sustainability Assistant at Seattle Pacific University's Office of Facility and Project Management

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