Finding alternatives to petroleum-based plastics has been something sought by many, as our society has grown so reliant on plastic in all sorts of manufacturing. Some alternatives include aluminum, ceramic, enamel, glass, lacquerware, stainless steel, and wood.
Here is a website that sells an assortment of plastic free products: http://lifewithoutplastic.com/
It depends on what purpose you’d be using the alternative material for. Glass containers are preferable to plastic containers in that glass does not contain any possibly toxic chemicals. Porcelain is also a good alternative to plastic.
Glass, of course, would not work for some things: you can’t make a computer out of glass.
Life Without Plastic provides a list of alternatives to plastic as well as many non-plastic products.
Instead of getting plastic bags at the grocery store, you could get paperbags. Both can be recycled, but paper bags degrade faster in landfills and are considered the more environmentally-friendly choice.
Polylactic acid (PLA) is a corn-based alternative to plastics that are made from petroleum. Pros from PLA include the fact that it is “technically ‘carbon neutral'” in that it comes from carbon-absorbing plants, and that it doesn’t give off toxic fumes when it’s burned. Cons include the fact that it has to be separated from plastic during recycling (since it’s made of a different material), and that corn production from monocropped genetically modified plants carries its own negative envrionmental effects.
Plastic is widely used in a multitude of industries and there has yet to be a substitution that is applicable to all of its uses. When it comes to grocery shopping, bringing your own cloth bags (and reusing them) seems to be the best alternative to plastic bags. I have used eating utensils made from PLA (as discussed by jfulgenc) and are a great alternative to plastic forks, knives, plates, bowls, etc. However, I could argue that items that could be used more than once would be more ecologically responsible because energy is expended to make PLA products. All in all, when looking for alternatives to plastic on a household level, look for something reusable/long-lasting.
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