Our fear of single-use plastics is simply irrational

Any sane person understands that plastic-phobia is irrational and a non-problem

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Ken GreenCanadian governments, like many around the world, are once again in the grip of toxic plastic-phobia: an irrational and potentially harmful fear of plastics.

Proposals to ban “single-use” plastics (under varying definitions) are all the rage across Canada, where the plastic-phobes, like locusts, have re-emerged from the obscurity imposed on them by the imminent spectre of mass viral death.

Plastic-phobia is irrational because any sane person would understand that it’s a non-problem, particularly in Canada.

Even according to Oceana, a group dedicated to plastic waste elimination, 86 per cent of Canada’s plastic waste ends up in a landfill (where it’s not hurting anything), another nine per cent is recycled, and only about one per cent of the rest ends up as litter. That’s a 99 per cent rate of hygienic handling of plastic materials. This is the very definition of a non-problem. To obsess about this is the definition of irrationality.

On the other hand, virtually everything we use to protect human health involves plastics, because poor hygiene kills. And those single-use products that the plastic-phobes disdain serve a vast array of hygienic functions. Single-use plastics brought us those sanitary wipes we hoarded when gripped by first-wave COVID-19 terrors, the plastic bottles that held our hand sanitizer, the plastic wands used to test us for COVID, the plastic gloves worn by our first responders and medical professionals, the plastic IV bags they hook us up to in hospital and the tubing as well.

Click here to downloadPlastics bring us the very insulation around the wires that make all the hospital machines work, and they bring us the materials in the medical masks that people are still being nagging us to wear today between hasty sips of our latte.

Single-use plastics delivered the serum used to vaccinate us, the syringes we were vaccinated with, and the materials used to make, package, transport and ship those vaccines to our arms.

If you’re in the hospital, you’re virtually encased in plastic. Want to share your water cup with your neighbouring ward mate? Maybe hand them over a used teaspoon of your gelatin or take one of theirs?

No, I didn’t think so.

The war against plastics, single-use plastics, multi-use plastics and even recycled plastics (which are no longer considered environmentally benign because, of course, climate change) is crazy.

Of course, there’s another potential explanation for the fixation on plastics: that the war on plastics is insincere, that anti-plastic activists and politicians don’t care about plastics, they’re actually against people having a lifestyle rich in the material goods that make for a comfortable and healthy life.

I’m not sure which irrational motivation is worse. I’d prefer to assume that people are simply irrational in their plastic-phobia, rather than anti-humanist, but it’s regrettably hard to tell in today’s political climate of fear.

They say it’s not helpful to tell someone who’s in the grip of an irrational fear to stop gibbering and think but, at a certain point, that’s an obligation of rational people in their self-defence. And that time is now.

When it comes to plastic bans, people need to ring up their politicians and say, “it’s time to stop your insane gibbering about my damn soda straws, my plastic forks, my hygienic wipes, the cling wrap that keeps my food sanitary, and the plastic bag I pack my kid’s lunch in and focus on things that will actually make the world a better place. Keep your grubby hands off my sanitary plastics.”

Ken Green is a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

Ken is a Troy Media contributor. For interview requests, click here.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the authors’ alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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One Response to "Our fear of single-use plastics is simply irrational"

  1. SUSAN   July 31, 2022 at 4:19 pm

    I loved this article. Without plastic, I simply wouldn’t be alive! I have an ileostomy (a medical device that is composed of plastic – it’s a bag used to collect my waste because my large intestine was removed about 40 years ago). The City of Edmonton is planning to ban the distribution of single-use plastic bags that are now still available at many checkouts in grocery stores, drug stores and other businesses. As of July 2023, they plan to eliminate them, saying that they litter the streets, parking lots, etc. and block sewer holes. However, I think that they are totally exaggerating this and it’s not a valid reason to ban plastic bags. I use an average of at least two plastic grocery bags per day for my waste, mainly ostomy-related (messy changes) that end up in plastic bags, so why do they call them single use? I can use a plastic bag many times: to carry items, or to keep salads, cakes or other foods covered in my fridge, to store my empty bottles, to fill with wet waste (including my poopy paper towels), to help with moving or to carry clean or dirty laundry. So why do they call these plastic bags single-use? I will be very angry when they take them away because I rely on them. They keep my dumpster from reeking because everything that stinks is sealed tightly. Can you imagine if I have to use paper bags or cloth bags for wet, messy, stinky waste? How do you put a twist tie on a paper bag? How do you tie a knot in the open end of a paper bag? I wish someone would start a petition to stop these environ-Mental freaks. At the height of the Omicron pandemic, health care staff were forced to wear big plastic shields over their faces. When I went to visit my dad at the senior home where he was staying, I had to wear one of those uncomfortable contraptions (both shields and masks were required). I am beyond sick and tired of all these environ-Mental experts, the follow the science experts and the corrupt WEF marionette politicians who are coming up with these new green ideas.


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