The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Ohio Province has responded to Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ Action Platform by creating the Dorothy Stang Initiative for Laudato Si’ Action. While in the process of gathering data from sisters, associates, staff, donors and others in our circle, we were reminded that all steps we take are important - both big and small. We therefore introduce Your Little Bit of Good, a short weekly one-pager that focuses on some aspect of the environment. It is an attempt to bring forward small things we can do.
Director of Justice, Peace and Care for Creation
Swirling God, who at the dawn of creation swept over the face of the waters, hover over our oceans and all waterways with your blessed presence.
May each droplet of mist and sea be clean and fresh for all life who come in contact with these holy streams.
Bless each cell and molecule of life below the surface of the waters who trust in you and us to create a prosperous world.
Continually nudge us to nurture creation, joining together with humans all over this planet to covenant with one another and celebrate the gifts of water, air, fire, and land that you have given us. Amen.
A few weeks ago, I asked for suggested topics for YLBG. One suggestion was to do a series to explain the differences in plastics and what is and is not recycled.
For the third in the series, we’ll look at #3 plastics. This plastic is called Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). It is a rigid plastic that is resistant to chemicals and weathering. It is most used for building and construction as well as tech applications, such as wires and cable. It’s also widely used in the medical field because it’s impervious to germs, easily disinfected and has single-use applications that reduce infection.
However, PVC can leach dangerous toxins throughout its entire lifecycle (eg: phthalates, lead, dioxins, vinyl chloride). Depending on the source, it is either only harmful to children, or it is harmful to everyone. The data is interpreted in many ways by different sources. However, the World Health Organization has classified PVC plastic as a carcinogen. Keep these facts in mind as you read the next sentence. Examples of this type of plastic are: Plumbing pipes, credit cards, children’s toys, teething rings, IV fluid bags, and medical tubing and oxygen masks.
PVC is technically recyclable. You have to find a facility, though. And most people are not going to ship off their old PVC to a center hours away. And recycling this plastic is not an earth friendly process anyway. However, if put in the landfill, the plastic will leach toxic elements into the soil and likely the groundwater.
Sadly, we do not have much control over this type of plastic. It will continue to be used for its industrial and medical purposes unless an alternative can be found. Advocacy around #3 plastics is severely lacking. But, they say knowledge is power, and now, you have at least a bit of knowledge.
The best way to deal with plastic is to reduce or eliminate your use of it.
This recent article from The Atlantic outlines reasons to eliminate plastic in your life.
A great resource for addressing the plastic problem is Beyond Plastics. Here you will find resources from which to learn and advocacy in which to engage.
Discussions are starting in the UN for the Global Plastics Treaty. Go to the Greenpeace website and send a message to the Biden Administration asking them to be a leader in this area.
Remember: “We will have the future that consumers demand.” We will only have change if we show companies that we want it!