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The botany of plastic

The development and impacts of plastic, its use in the gardening industry, and how gardeners can reduce the use of plastic.

Allison Cobb

on 28 June 2010

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Transcript of The botany of plastic

tree shelters
soil sieves
mulch films
irrigation pipe
field liners
"geomembranes" the first plastic came from plants cotton treated with nitric acid sources:
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Biological Sciences 2009, Vol. 364, No. 1526
Jeffery L. Meikle, American Plastic: A Cultural History (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1995
Robert Friedel, Pioneer Plastic: The Making and Selling of Celluoid (Madison: University of WisconsinPress, 1983)
The gardening industry uses some 320 million pounds of plastic a year, according to a 2004 estimate from the Penn State University College of Agricultural Sciences in University Park, Pa., http://www.growinginchicago.com/2009/07/garden-plastics-signs-of-hope-but-long.html
it was meant to copy natural materials agricultural uses of plastic does plastic have a place in organic production? based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management
practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony. only about 1% of agricultural plastic is recycled
a very low rate we have alternatives (and strategies)! THE BIG PLASTIC PROBLEM that remains true. most of the plastic produced today
turns into disposable packaging 60,000 It was not important to these uses that plastic lasted a long time a fundamental mismatch
between design and use: "one of the most ubiquitous and long-lasting recent changes to the surface of our planet" like horn, bone and
resins that could be
heated and molded but that were becoming
more and more scarce the number of plastic bags used in the U.S.
every five seconds (source: chrisjordan.com) designing a material that lasts for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, for mostly disposable purposes, means that 60 years after plastic began to be mass produced, plastic debris now appears in every ecosystem, from the poles to the equator. it has been found in sea canyons 3,000 feet down and floating under polar ice floes. on Midway Island, one of the most remote in the Pacific,
40% of baby albatross birds die from ingesting plastic (chrisjordan.com) one piece of plastic swallowed by an albatross
was traced to a WWII plane shot down 60 years earlier all the plastic ever made still exists. it will remain long after we die. plastic production continues to grow
at a rate of about 9% a year. nearly as much
plastic was created in the last decade as in
the entire previous century

it accounts for about 8% of global oil production today plastic comes from fossilized plants: oil and gas plastic requires serious off-farm inputs! common uses of plastic in the garden according to a 2004 estimate, the gardening industry
uses 320 million pounds of plastic every year avoid disposable plastic items like pots and plant tags. buy soil and fertilizer in bulk. for more durable
plastic items like hoses, row covers and plastic hoop houses, choose recycled material or reuse. find a
local business that recycles gardening and horticultural supplies or will reuse plastic pots and tags.
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