Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What Plastic Has Given to Us

Recently, there are a lot of bad press about how plastic can damage our environment. It is true, but we should also see what plastic has given to us over the years. Nowadays, it has become a part of our lives and we even do not realize if we use it everywhere.

In the early 1950s when plastic has not been invented, we only had paper bags that are dissolved in the rain. Without the invention, we only will wear natural fabrics entirely. Natural fabrics are good, but are not suitable in all situations, for instance swimming suit.

Laminated plastic was popular among housewives in the 1940s and 1950s because it is easy to clean and colorful. The kitchen has become a light, attractive, and hygienic area. The Tupperware was invented shortly after as a reusable and resealable container. There were a lot of thermoplastic materials around this period including polythene, nylon, PVC, and polystyrene.

In the 1960s, plastic was used in design icons, such as Eero Saarinen's Tulip chair. There was an interesting comment from French designer Philippe Starck saying that "the more you use plastic in an intelligent and ethical way, the less often you kill animals to have the leather, the less often you kill trees to have wood".

Plastic is also important in medical applications. It replaced glass vessels used for blood transfusions. In addition, plastic also opened the possibility of mass production of cheap and attractive goods.

Nowadays plastic is not only used in cheap items as expensive gadgets like laptops, mobile phones, and iPods use plastic casings. Hi-tech plastic is developed continuously even today. Some plastics can alter in shape and used in shape-changing planes, while others can change color when the temperature is changing. A new invention uses plastic as protective clothing because it can change from liquid to solid on impact.

As you can see, plastic can be valuable in our lives. What we need to do right now is not shoving plastic away, but study how the concept of green design and green living can be applied to all plastic products. We should find a way to prevent plastic to fill our landfill and litter our landscape or seas.

This news was summarized from In defence of plastic.

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