In Times of Crisis People Fall Back on What Works – Plastic
Along with many firsts brought to us by Covid-19, one is a seemingly reversal of thinking about plastic of all kinds.
Starbucks, after promising the public it would reduce plastic use, announced recently that it would not refill customer cups but use regular (sterile) plastic cups instead. In California, customers shopping bags are refused entry into supermarkets. Apparently, a fresh new plastic bag is more sanitary! Plastic disposable gloves are worn by healthcare workers and customers alike to keep the virus off of hands where touching may transmit it to nose, mouth or eyes.
We are discovering that plastic still has many of the health benefits that it always had, where safety is concerned. Precisely because it is one use, plastic is now fashionable again, or at least has a reprieve as long as killer germs seem to be lurking everywhere.
Naturally, plastic has many other safety features too, such as nearly unbreakable when dropped. This is useful with shower shampoo and liquid soaps, bleach, and other caustic materials. It also has properties that prevent corrosion by most of these materials.
Plastic wrap keeps meats and leftovers fresher and bacteria off until unwrapped. This allows a higher percentage of use and therefore less waste.
The benefits that allowed the incredible acceptance and explosion in the industry since the 1970’s weren’t just oil men trying to make more money, they are advantageous benefits that increased product benefits. Customers have loved (in the sense that they keep buying) plastic since then. Just count the number of times a plastic water bottle, soda, or Bug Gulp appears each day on a busy street. You don’t see many aluminum or glass bottles. They cost more and are less convenient for many applications.
So while we all hope we can get through Covid-19 as soon as possible, perhaps we should also remember how useful plastic is to our safety and health. Sure, we can do a better job disposing and recycling it, but plastic has benefits that some want us to forget. It exists because people find it very useful, so useful that we have lots of it. Perhaps Covid-19 has taught us much more than just about sickness but staying healthy too.