Pain in the Poohole Plastic:

We need to stop its villainous schemes

By Michelle Ning Lo May 15, 2014

You’re an average Taiwanese adult and your average workday involves a cup of coffee from the nearby 7-11, breakfast consisting of an egg wrap and a sandwich, a lunchbox you ordered with the rest of the employees in the office, and a nice bubble tea to get you through the afternoon until you can take out some fried rice and soup at a nearby restaurant for dinner.

        This all sounds all-too familiar, and now you’re wondering why the heck you’re reading an article with a boring opening. You’re probably questioning my writing skills, and you’re wondering what’s taking the food vendor so long. It’s midnight snack time and you really need to get some fried chicken strips into your stomach to stop that noisy rumbling.

        So, let’s up the ante. We’re going to rewind your everyman day and chug a pint whenever thin plastic comes into the equation. The plastic wrapper around the straw for your coffee. Chug. The small plastic bag that holds your coffee cup. Chug. The plastic bag that contains your egg wrap and the one that is used to wrap your sandwich. Chug twice. The plastic wrapper that goes around your disposable chopsticks. Chug. The plastic bag that holds all your breakfast items. Chug again.

        Not drunk yet? Don’t worry. That was just the morning…

 

Ilha de Plástico

        But we’ll finish the game later, because I want you to be conscious while I tell you that in Taiwan, the annual consumption of plastic bags is about 18 billion1. That is, every person on average uses two plastic bags a day. But that seems like an understatement, considering the four plastic bags you’ve already drunk to.

        The staggering number of plastic bags used and disposed of in Taiwan every day has provided our small country with an unlimited amount of litter problems2, drainage issues3, and deadly dioxin4. Stray plastic bags not only ruin Taiwan’s reputation as Formosa by becoming unsightly blemishes in our otherwise marvelous scenery like annoying drifting photo-bombers, they also clog up drain pipes and sewer lids, turning our streets into their customized mud baths. As we try to murder them in our incinerators, they reincarnate as dioxin, and they are back for revenge, a soul for a soul.

Human beings have been taking these immortal grocery-holders for granted ever since their invention, but plastic bags aren’t content with just being used for meaningless ten-minute tasks, nuh uh. Like your ex-girlfriends, they want to stick around forever, and ever, and ever5.

 

They’re taking over the world!

        Taiwan isn’t the only ex-lover that plastic bags refuse to let go of. Difficulties regarding the disposal of plastic bags are found everywhere in the world6. But those are just our own private plastic problems which we could treat as flimsy, indecomposable skeletons in the closet.

        Plastic bags are also expanding their evil plans to places beyond human territory, specifically, the five mammoth gyres in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans7. Plastic bags somehow find their way into the ocean and settle in these gyres, giant water vortexes. Once plastic bags find a place of their liking, they make the place a base from which to bring about their villainous schemes. They scatter into swarming pieces of microplastics and disguise themselves as plankton and other things marine animals find delicious. They seize innocuous birds flying by, hitch-hike to other places in the ocean, and kill their rides once they reach their destinations8. They assemble together into one giant dragon of plastic waste, and terrorize the oceans worse than all of the monsters in Sinbad combined9.

        What have we created? Billions and billions of evil villains that have a life expectancy of centuries, and who all have just one goal in mind: to take over the world.

 

Better than bad isn’t good

        You sip at your bubble tea before raising the cup up for all to see. “Meet our saviour.”

        First of all, good for you for being one of the few people who are actually aware that 70% of beverage cups in Taiwan are made of PLA, or corn-based plastic10. Second, however, you are still part of the majority who don’t realize that PLA isn’t the cure-all it’s made out to be.

        Qing-Rui Pan, hilariously nicknamed the “Asian Plastic Cup King,” produces 600 million PLA cups annually. PLA is biodegradable, is made from renewable plant starch, and does not come back to haunt us when we incinerate it11. It’s basically petroleum-based plastic’s Dr. Jekyll. So we can make as many of these cups as we want without having to feel guilty, right?

        Right?

        Unfortunately, no. It’s true that PLA isn’t as immortal as its Mr. Hyde, but without proper industrial composting, it can still take 100 to 1000 years to biodegrade. Another issue is that PLA isn’t recyclable and shouldn’t be mixed with traditional plastics for it could cause problems in the recycling stream.

        “Whoa,” you say, finally lowering your bubble tea cup, “I didn’t know any of that.”

        And you’re not alone. Due to the lack of education and public awareness, PLA is still a problem in Taiwan12. You’ve probably heard of corn-based plastic, but before today you wouldn’t have known its other name. When you saw “PLA” at the bottom of your plastic cup (which in itself is a thing barely anyone does), you would’ve just thought it was any old plastic.

This is where I’m going to start ranting about the government. The Environmental Protection Administration is now reinforcing PLA use in the market, but those lazybones either didn’t do enough research or just didn’t care enough to promote proper disposal of PLA products.

It’s like they mixed the perfect chocolate-cake batter, shoved it into the oven, patted themselves on the back, and then left without even telling anyone they were baking. The result wouldn’t be deliciousness, it would be a freaking fire.

 

Refuse and Reuse

        “Alright. I’m out of ideas,” you say, munching on those tasty chicken strips. “How do we solve the problem?”

        Well, you can start with that snack you’re currently devouring. Chicken strips and most other snack foods sold at Taiwanese vendors come in a paper bag, which is then put in a plastic bag for its convenient handles. But do we really need the handles when it takes approximately five seconds to walk back to our dorm rooms or our scooters? If we knew we would need a bag with handles, couldn’t we have simply brought a reused plastic bag with us in our pockets?

        Refusing and reusing plastic bags is the most effective way we lowly commoners can eliminate the panic-provoking plastic problem. Vendor owners often look at me as if my skin were rainbow-coloured whenever I say no to bags, but that’s a small price to pay in order to save our environment.

        Going back to your everyman routine, if you bring your own coffee mug, metal chopsticks, and reusable bag, and refuse or reuse the straws for your coffee and bubble tea, every day you could easily prevent nearly twenty pieces of evil from harassing Mother Nature.

        And really, think about it, do you really need a tiny immortal plastic bag to carry your coffee when you can easily hold onto the cup itself? Do you really need a tiny immortal plastic bag to hold your bubble tea when the cup is already sealed up nicely for you?

        I agree that completely eliminating plastic use for us twenty-first-century entities is as possible as Taiwan ever having a competent government, but that doesn’t mean we have the right to wantonly hurl eternal evil in the environment’s face. Reducing plastic bags and cups isn’t that hard, and since Superman isn’t real, but super villains are, it’s up to every one of us to fight against the wicked schemes of plastic.

        So, want to finish that drinking game?

 

References

      1.      環境資訊中心台灣塑膠袋用量驚人 年耗180億個

<http://e-info.org.tw/node/31904>

2.      中時電子報合歡山淨山 看見台灣人真髒

<http://www.chinatimes.com/realtimenews/20140430002014-260405>

3.      ETtoday 東森新聞雲桃園國際機場「抓漏」 廣邀專家盼徹底解決問題

<http://travel.ettoday.net/article/354987.htm>

4.      戴奧辛知多少?

<http://ago.gcaa.org.tw/issue/garbage/DIEOSEN/diesa008.htm>

5.      Iowa State University – Corn Products Could Replace Oil-based Plastics

<http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Grain/Topics/OilBasedPlastics.htm>

6.      Say No to Plastic – Plastic Facts

<http://www.saynotoplastics.com/plastic-facts/>

7.      Huffington Post – This Is How Your Plastic Bag Ends Up in Massive Ocean Garage Patches

<http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/22/plastic-ocean-garbage_n_5191294.html>

8.      Scientific American – What Is It? Death by Plastic

<http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-is-it-feb-11/>

9.      Love for Life – Plastic Ocean: Our Oceans Are Turning Into Plastic…Are We?

<http://loveforlife.com.au/content/08/09/22/plastic-ocean-our-oceans-are-turning-plastic-are-we-susan-casey-20th-february-2007->

10.  中時電子報 - 「玉米製」環保杯技術致富 市占率七成

<http://www.chinatimes.com/realtimenews/20130812004016-260412>

11.  About.com – Pros and Cons of Corn-based Plastic PLA

<http://environment.about.com/od/greenlivingdesign/a/pla.htm>

12.  環境資訊中心 – PLA不能回收 糟蹋環保美意

<http://e-info.org.tw/node/39329>

 

惱人的塑膠:

我們要阻止它的邪惡計畫

羅寗 2014.05.15

        你是個普通的台灣上班族,而你普通的工作天裡會有一杯小七的咖啡、蛋餅加三明治早餐、跟辦公室同事一起訂的便當、還有一杯珍珠奶茶幫你撐到晚上可以外帶炒飯跟湯的時候。

        這都聽起來超熟悉的,所以現在你在問自己幹嘛讀這麼無聊的文章。你在懷疑我的寫作能力,也在想攤販老闆怎麼搞那麼久還沒好。現在是消夜時間了,你的肚子吵著要你趕快用鹹酥雞安慰它。

        好,那我們來點刺激的。我們來倒帶回顧你平凡無奇的一天,但是薄塑膠一出現你就要乾一杯。咖啡吸管的塑膠套,乾杯。裝咖啡杯的小塑膠提袋,乾杯。分別裝蛋餅和三明治的兩個塑膠袋,乾兩杯。免洗筷的塑膠套,乾杯。裝早餐所有項目的大塑膠袋,再乾。

        還沒醉嗎?沒關係,那還只是早上而已‧‧‧‧‧‧

 

塑膠寶島

        但是我們等一下再玩,因為我想要你保持清醒,好好聽我說台灣每年塑膠袋用量是180億個1,也就是說,每人每天平均用兩個塑膠袋。但是那好像有點少,你剛剛不是已經因為塑膠袋乾了四杯了?

        每天在台灣被用和丟棄的塑膠袋已經給予我們可愛的小國家無限量供應的垃圾問題2排水困難3、和有毒的戴奧辛4。亂飄的塑膠袋不但像討厭的搶鏡頭奧客一樣毀了我們無瑕的風景,侮辱台灣美麗寶島的名譽,它們也會堵塞水管和水溝蓋,把我們的街頭變成它們特製的泥浴。我們想用焚化爐謀殺它們時,它們卻復生為戴奧辛,回來尋仇,一命換一命。

        人類自從塑膠袋的發明以後就把它們視為理所當然,但是塑膠袋單單被我們用十分鐘是不會滿足的。就像你那些前女友們一樣,它們會纏著你,直到天長,直到地久5

 

它們要征服全世界!

塑膠袋放不開的前愛人不只台灣一個,全世界都看得到塑膠袋處理的困難6。但是那些都還只是我們自己家的事,鄰居們不需要知道。

塑膠袋邪惡計畫也擴展到人類領域以外的地方了,特別是太平洋、大西洋、和印度洋裡的五大環流系統7。塑膠袋有辦法跑到海洋裡安居在環流中,找到自己喜歡的地方後就設立基地準備施行它們的詭計。它們分裂成塑膠微粒,假扮成浮游生物和其他海洋生物所謂的美食。它們抓住無辜的小鳥,搭便車到海洋其他地方,到達目的地後就把車主殺害8。它們結合成一大條塑膠龍,脅迫大海的程度比《辛巴達》裡的怪物全部加起來還恐怖9

我們製造出什麼了?幾百億個可以活好幾世紀的惡棍,而且它們都只有一個目標:征服全世界。

 

比不好好不是好

        你吸了一口珍奶後把杯子舉起來讓大家看。「這是我們的救主。」

        首先,你還不錯,屬於少數知道台灣有70%塑膠杯是用玉米塑膠〈PLA〉做的人10。然而,你還是屬於大部分的人,不知道PLA不是能夠解決所有問題的仙丹。

        有「亞洲塑膠杯大王」這種搞笑綽號的潘慶瑞一年製造出六億個PLA杯子。PLA可以被生物分解,是用可再生的植物澱粉做的,而且焚燒後不會跑回來騷擾我們11。它是石油塑膠的傑克博士。所以我們想做幾個塑膠杯就可以做幾個,不會有罪惡感,對不對?

        對不對?

        壞消息,不對。PLA是沒有它的化身海德先生那麼長壽,但是沒有適當的工業堆肥,它還是需要1001000年的時間才能分解。還有一個缺點就是PLA不能回收,也不行和其他塑膠混在一起,因為它會破壞回收系統。

        你終於把珍奶杯放下,說:「哇哩咧,我怎麼都不知道這些?」

        你不是唯一一個。因為缺乏教育和公共意識PLA在台灣還是個問題12。你可能聽說過玉米塑膠,但是你不會知道它另一個名字。你在塑膠杯底下看到「PLA」時〈這其實也是很少人會去做的事〉,你會以為它就是普通的塑膠。

        這裡我要開始對政府碎碎念了。環保署現在有加強PLA在市場的運用,但是那些懶惰蟲不是沒有研究夠,就是根本不在乎PLA處理方法的宣傳。

        他們的做法就好像是混了一盤完美的巧克力蛋糕液後,把蛋糕液丟進烤箱裡,拍拍自己的肩膀,然後就走,完全沒告訴人自己有在烤蛋糕。這樣做結果不會是美味,結果會是大火災。

 

拒絕與重複使用

        你邊嚼著鹹酥雞邊說:「好啦,我想不到辦法了。我們要怎麼解決問題?」

        就先從你的宵夜著手吧。鹹酥雞和其他台灣小吃常常是裝在紙代裡,而紙袋又被裝在塑膠袋裡,因為塑膠袋有兩個方便的提帶。但是我們走到宿舍或是摩托車只需要五秒鐘的時間,真的那麼需要堤帶嗎?我們如果知道會需要手提袋,帶一個重複用的袋子在口袋裡面很容易呀。

     拒絕和重複使用塑膠袋是我們這些低下的平民百姓能夠解決塑膠問題最有效的方法。我說不用塑膠袋時,攤販老闆們常常會看我好像我有彩色皮膚一樣,但是這對保護環境來說是個小小的代價。

        回到你的平凡日常作息,如果你有帶自己的咖啡杯、金屬筷子、和購物袋,並且拒絕或重複使用咖啡和珍奶的吸管,你就能每天防止將近二十個­邪惡塑膠袋去騷擾大自然。

    還有,真正想一想,你真的那麼需要用長生不老的小塑膠袋裝你的咖啡杯嗎?拿著杯子本身有這麼難嗎?你真的需要用永存不死的小塑膠袋裝你的珍奶嗎?珍奶杯不是已經幫你封得好好的?

        我知道對於我們二十世紀的人們來說,完全去除塑膠的可能性和台灣能夠擁有一個稱職的政府的可能性一樣高,但是這不代表我們有權利可以任意把殺不死的邪惡丟到環境臉上。減少塑膠袋和塑膠杯的使用不難,而且因為超人不存在,但是超級惡棍是存在的,所以我們每一個人都需要反抗塑膠卑鄙可恥的詭計。

        好啦,要繼續玩乾杯遊戲嗎?

創作者介紹

DesigNing

Ning 發表在 痞客邦 PIXNET 留言(1) 人氣()


留言列表 (1)

發表留言
  • 俴 誏 ? 闚
  • 再出麼我我麼出爾這自物不爾到,實我子麼生隻這比一去

    免◇費線上看﹋ goo.gl/SbIKlX