📰 Plastics

Oh, look, there’s another pretty box under the news chum tree. It’s oddly hard. Let’s take off the wrapping. Hmm, it seems to be made of plastic:

  • All That Glitters. We’ve all seen glitter, but have you ever wondered how it is made? Here’s an in-depth exploration of the process of making glitter, or as it might be better known, aluminum metalized polyethylene terephthalate. What is it made of? Think mylar. Think very fine aluminum. Think a process similar to those potato chip bags you hate. There’s holographic glitter. Iridescent glitter, with over 230 layers, each as think as half the wavelength of light. Most significantly: all the modern plastic glitter that has ever been created is still right here with us. According to Dr. Victoria Miller, a materials science and engineering professor at North Carolina State University, the plastic film from which most glitter is made takes about 1,000 years to completely biodegrade on Earth. Snap, chuff, sparkle, sparkle indeed.
  • Plastic Sustainability. A major problem with clothing is the waste. Most of the clothing we wear, when it gets old, goes into a landfill. Most plastic goes into the same, never to biodegrade. It’s a big concern (listen to the Articles of Interest podcast on blue jeans, and you’ll be amazed at the waste). So it is interesting to read that Everlane’s new collection of puffer jackets, fleece pullovers, and streamlined parkas is made from recycled plastic bottles. Adidas has a goal of using recycled ocean plastic in all of its products by 2024, and Everlane’s “ReNew” collection of outerwear is the first step in a wider push to entirely eliminate virgin (or newly made) plastic from its operations by 2021. That will involve substituting all of its synthetic fibers with renewed alternatives, replacing the virgin plastic bags it ships products in with recycled bags, and getting rid of single-use plastic in its stores and offices.
  • Plastic Pens. Think about the humble Bic plastic ballpoint pen. Disposable. Yet it has had a significant effect, changing how we write about the world. Yes, the ballpoint pen killed cursive. The ballpoint’s universal success has changed how most people experience ink. Its thicker ink was less likely to leak than that of its predecessors. For most purposes, this was a win—no more ink-stained shirts, no need for those stereotypically geeky pocket protectors. However, thicker ink also changes the physical experience of writing, not necessarily all for the better. As for me, I’ll stick with my pocket protector — and my fountain pens!
  • Plastic Souvenirs. I think I posted this a while back, but it caught my eye again. Do you remember the “mold-a-rama”, the machines that would make plastic souvenirs out of plastic pellets. There are two companies that make the machines, which are still going strong.