Sunday Reflections – October 4: Fake Plastic Trees

Almost invariably, I wake up each morning with some song rolling around in my mind. This morning I woke up with Radiohead’sFake Plastic Trees,” in full-on live streaming mode.

This band and song was one of my favorites, back in the day, when pop culture began to be defined by the “Grunge” movement: flannel shirts, ripped jeans and broody-moody song lyrics as musicians returned to a rock sound with their grungy, gritty, back-to-the-roots of rock-n-roll aspirations. Bands like Pearl Jam, The Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana and Metallica were the sounds that defined my young adult years, a time when most all of us – no matter the generation – begin to relate to music more deeply as we individuate and become more of the person we will be as an adult.

Fake Plastic Trees,” got me to thinking about plastic in general and when we, as a society, decided it was the wonder substance, to be used for everything under the sun. Plastic, as we obviously know, has real limitations. Certainly VERY REAL to all of us in the mesh community. How did our society go from deciding that glass Gatorade bottles were the enemy of our children’s basketball and volleyball courts (OH MY GOSH! The bottle could possibly break, and then could possibly hurt someone!) to “Plastic – It’s the NEW glass!” Where is the societal OUTRAGE over the ways plastic has hurt, maimed, killed, and sickened so many individual people?

The media whipped everyone into a frenzy several years ago over the ubiquitous use of BPA (Bisphenol A), just ONE type of plastic. The pace has slowed, but the use of BPA is still a hot news topic.

BPAbpa_freeRecent Studies State Chemical In Plastic Liquid Containers Contain Tox

“We can’t have our water bottles made with BPA,” they say. “Don’t store food inside BPA-containing tupperware, and don’t you dare commit the unpardonable sin of heating your food in the microwave in these plastic containers with BPA! Down, down with BPA! Kill the enemy!”

Oh, and, by the way, “SAVE THE PLANET! BPA is going to KILL THE PLANET!”

Hysteria ensued, and early-adopting consumers decided they would not go near a plastic product made with a single molecule of BPA. We began to see the marketers respond – labels on everything – “BPA-Free!” they said. We didn’t know what BPA was; we just knew it was REALLY, REALLY BAD, and it was becoming socially unacceptable to be seen in public – with our kids in tow – carrying the ostracizing, made in China, “Non-BPA free” reusable sports bottles.

The social pressure of early adopters changed the social norm of what was the acceptable use of this plastic and what was not.

Now, most every food-grade plastic is “BPA-free,” and the “theys” tell us, THIS PLASTIC (every other plastic polymer, especially Plastic #1, PET or Polyethylene terephthalate) is safe for your baby’s sippy cup, safe for you to drink from during your “Power Yoga” class, safe for the lining of metal cans that house baked beens, baby food and beauty products. But the truth is that BPA and PET are simply two canaries in the coal mine, warning us that plastic isn’t the world’s greatest invention since sliced bread.

Notice in the chart below, BPA is plastic #7 – the most dangerous of plastics – which can interrupt our endocrine systems and attack our balance of hormones, causing all manner of discomfort and illness. Since I found this chart, (unknown source) I’ve seen #9 inside the friendly triangle shape – a black plastic container holding cupcakes I bought. Now, all plastics must be labeled with its commensurate triangular icon and grade/number of plastic. No, the familiar, triangular arrow DOES NOT mean “recyclable.” Usually imprinted on the bottom of any given container, this triangular symbol tells you what kind of plastic you are recycling, eating from, or what kind of plastic is implanted in your body. I bet you didn’t get to turn over the mesh product placed in your body to look at which kind of plastic was being used, or even THAT plastic was being used in your “safe” medical implant at all.

The mesh community’s ENEMY #1 is Plastic #5 – Polypropylene.

Johnson and Johnson, Boston Scientific, Endo/AMS and other medical device manufactures put Plastic #5 – Polypropylene – in the bodies of millions of people for the repair of SUI, POP and/or hernia.

Polypropylene #5 is just two meager steps away from the source of our nationwide outrage – BPA, #7.

BPA - Just the worst off the worst.

BPA – Just the worst of the worst.

HEAR THIS: The PLANET will survive plastic; it is the human beings who live on the planet who will not.

CAN WE UNITE UNDER THAT CREDO?

Can we join forces under a shared goal – environmentalists, politicos of the anti-oil sort, advocates for quality in consumer products, and advocates for quality in medical-grade materials? The oceans and the Earth will adapt and survive. Apparently, it’s the most powerful human institutions that will not adapt, and the humans under their tyranny who will not survive. But in understanding how the social environment and its BPA frenzy CHANGED the socially accepted uses of BPA, we have a blueprint.

We have a more common shared enemy: the misuse of plastic.

All plastic is a petrochemical waste product that became a gold mine for all types of industry.

From toy makers – Remember wooden toys? What was so wrong with them?

To the manufacturers of food storage containers – Remember RUBBERmaid containers and Ball Jars? Rubber and glass are natural substances.

To manufacturers of food and beverage – Remember when Gatorade bottles were glass?

To clothing manufacturers – Our clothing is now largely made from plastic polymers or polymer blends (polyester, acetate, nylon and spandex being some of the most well known). Cotton, wool and denim were working fine, weren’t they? Try to find a pair of pure-denim jeans these days. Good luck, and bring your savings account.

Plastic works well for some uses. After all, it’s durable. It’ll be here for tens of thousands of years according to scientists. Plastic is convenient, disposable and inexpensive, right?

Or is it?

Polypropylene plastic mesh has not been convenient, disposable OR inexpensive for mesh-injured patients. The expense of the use of polypropylene mesh could never even be quantified. The precious injured ones and their families are PRICELESS. The financial and human losses of dignity, freedom, and quality of life FAR exceed even the most attractive legal awards ($73.5M, Salazar v. Boston Scientific).

Maybe our voices will be elevated to BPA-hysteria levels if we can connect with environmentalists; political ideologues, who loathe the oil-producing industry for so many reasons; and hovercraft, Soccer Moms who just want to make sure their children are not being poisoned.

Think about it.

Maybe we’re on to something. Maybe our cause and cries are more similar to those of Beth Terry at My Plastic Free Life than with those of anyone else.

If the healthcare industry and the FDA won’t listen to us, maybe the truly consumer-based industries will listen to us – when we stop giving them permission to make poison with our hard-earned dollars.

fake_plastic_trees

“Fake Plastic Trees”

Her green plastic watering can
For her fake Chinese rubber plant
In the fake plastic earth
That she bought from a rubber man
In a town full of rubber plans
To get rid of itself

It wears her out, it wears her out
It wears her out, it wears her out

She lives with a broken man
A cracked polystyrene man
Who just crumbles and burns
He used to do surgery
For girls in the eighties
But gravity always wins

It wears him out, it wears him out
It wears him out, it wears him out

She looks like the real thing
She tastes like the real thing
My fake plastic love
But I can’t help the feeling
I could blow through the ceiling
If I just turn and run

It wears me out, it wears me out
It wears me out, it wears me out

If I could be who you wanted
If I could be who you wanted all the time

All the time…
All the time…

 More about BPA:

The Baltimore Sun – October 4, 2015

ScienceAlert.com – September 29, 2015

Scientific American – September 25, 2015

Stanford University News – September 23, 2015

TIME Magazine – June 3, 2015

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