Perspectives 7: Insidious Plastics

harmful but enticing: seductive; having a gradual and cumulative effect: subtle; awaiting a chance to entrap: treacherous

 List of Participating Artists (click here)

Kickoff Meeting
Perspectives 10.2023

March Workshop with Artist Kate Dodd

Q&A with Megan Wolff from Beyond Plastics

February Workshop:
Plastic and the Arts – Keri Maxfield’s Presentation

Here is a link to an article on the artist, Clyde Connell, Don Wilson was talking about at our workshop:

November Workshop:
Video of Kate Semmen’s Presentation
Keri Maxfield’s Powerpoint Slides


Presentation from Megan Wolf of Beyond Plastics

Awesome Data Visualizations:

Microplastics are Everywhere:

The New Coal: Plastics and Climate Change

NOAA’s Marine Debris Program

What You Can Do About Trash Pollution

Composting – PA Department of Environmental Protection

Plastics in Bottled Water:

Check out these books and many more at Easton Area Public Library:

  • Can I Recycle This? A Guide To Better Recycling And How To Reduce Single-Use Plastics by Jennie Romer
  • Plastic: A Toxic Love Story by Susan Freinkel
  • Year Of No Garbage: Recycling Lies, Plastic Problems, And One Woman’s Trashy Journey To Zero Waste: A Memoir by Eve O. Schaub
  • Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash by Edward Humes
  • The Compost Coach: Make Compost, Build Soil And Grow A Regenerative Garden – Wherever You Live! by Kate Flood
  • Zero Waste Para Salvar El Mundo: Guía Ilustrada Para Una Vida Sostenible by Ally Visp

Check out these books and many more at Bethlehem Area Public Library:

  • Can I Recycle This? A Guide To Better Recycling And How To Reduce Single-Use Plastics by Jennie Rome
  • Plastic Planet: How Plastic Came To Rule The World (And What You Can Do To Change It) by Georgia Amson-Bradshaw
  • Living Without Plastic: More Than 100 Easy Swaps For Home, Travel, Dining, Holidays, And Beyond by Brigette Allen
  • Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash by Edward Humes
  • Waste by Debbie Nevins


Birth of Plastics

Current Use of Plastics

Plastics Reuse

  • Turning plastic into hydrogen: “The Fuel of the Future” –
  • This article describes a new recycling process that refines plastic trash into valuable chemicals and oils by heating them in an oxygen-free environment.“We can get high-value alcohols worth $1,200 to $6,000 per ton from waste plastics, which are only worth about $100 per ton” Revolutionary chemical recycling process adds big value to junk …
  • Algramo is a unique company that aims to reduce plastic waste. They place vending machines with different products like laundry detergent or dog food around a city. They’re equipped with reusable containers that are to be returned or refilled. You only pay for the product, not the packaging. They only operate in four countries at this point. The link is to a video that quickly breaks down the model.
  • “The students learned that others have tried to introduce plastic into cement mixtures, but the plastic weakened the resulting concrete. Investigating further, they found evidence that exposing plastic to doses of gamma radiation makes the material’s crystalline structure change in a way that the plastic becomes stronger, stiffer, and tougher…And the presence of irradiated plastic along with fly ash strengthened the concrete even further, increasing its strength by up to 15 percent compared with samples made just with Portland cement, particularly in samples with high-dose irradiated plastic.” MIT students fortify concrete by adding recycled plastic

Plastic Alternatives

  • The interesting idea to replace plastic buoys with ones made with mycelium is described in this article. Main issues being their shorter “lifespans” as functional buoys as well as their attraction of seagulls. (And how those seagulls affect the likes of seafood farms that are interested.) Buoys made of mushrooms stay afloat in Maine waters

Medical Use of Plastics

  • Can medical care exist without plastic? – National Geographic The Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council (HPRC) answers the question above.^ They say no, but aim to “improve the recyclability of plastic products and packaging within healthcare”. The website is a database of current hurdles in diminishing healthcare plastic waste, past issues overcome, other projects & groups with similar goals.
  • This is the HPRC’s list of “Future Steps” snipped from their article “Regulatory Barriers Related to Healthcare Plastic Waste Recycling in the EU”. The article focuses on legislative barriers preventing the development of a better healthcare waste recycling system. Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council
  • This article describes how plastic revolutionized healthcare in the 20th century. They describe its flexible nature and how this property makes plastic designs seemingly endless, while offering highly available, low-cost, and sterile products. Application of Plastics in Medical Devices and Equipment – PMC

Sustainability and Plastics

  • This article describes the problems the Southern Oregon Sanitation facility faces when tackling plastic recycling. Their customers were upset when they were told the facility can only accept soda bottles and jugs for milk & detergent. They state, “Waste management experts say the problem with plastic is that it is expensive to collect and sort. There are now thousands of different types of plastic, and none of them can be melted down together. Plastic also degrades after one or two uses. Greenpeace found the more plastic is reused the more toxic it becomes.” Recycling plastic is practically impossible… – NPR
  • Glitter’s design is small shiny pieces of plastic. These pieces often pass through water filtration and end up in the ocean. “Today Glitter” makes glitter out of plant cellulose from eucalyptus trees. Today Glitter: Bioglitter®
  • Cotopaxi is a brand: Their (Re)Purpose® Collection uses fabric left over from other companies’ production runs. The company is climate neutral. 94% of their products contain repurposed, recycled, or “responsible materials” Cotopaxi – Gear For Good

Plastic Waste

Plastic Pollution

Plastics and Politics

  • This online library has a massive pool of information on plastic pollution and the politics fighting it. With tables showcasing global agreements focused on plastics pollution, economic policy initiatives focused on plastics, and different examples of regulations and solutions focused on plastic bags, bottles, microplastics, and single-use plastics. Politics and the plastic crisis: A review throughout the plastic life cycle

Plastic Cleanup

Plastic Awareness/Art