Better or worse?

“Organic” plastic vs. ”normal” plastic

The other day I went to the health store and got into an interesting conversation with the shop assistant. I told her about my quest and she really liked the idea and wanted to help me. So when I asked her if there was any possible way I could get creme fraiche or sour cream that wasn’t wrapped in plastic, she pointed at a plastic container. I wondered if she just wanted to make fun of me or if she misunderstood, but she took the container out of the shelf and told me that the packaging wasn’t actually made of plastic, but so-called ”organic plastic” meaning it is made out of corn and therefore bio degradable.

I had heard of bio degradable bin liners and plastic bags before, but I had no idea a lot of the plastic in my favourite shop was a different kind of plastic. The shop assistant told me that as this was a health store, most of the product packaging was from ”sustainable sources”. The first thing that would come to your mind automatically would probably be: Hey, great solution! If everything was bio degradable and produced without the use of oil, where is the problem? We can just use that instead of ”normal plastic”.

Well, as much as I would have liked the idea of just using ”organic plastic”, there are two really big problems and therefore two important reasons why I would not consider it an alternative.

  1. Ok, so apparently it is bio degradable. The problem is that like most people living in big city appartements, I don’t have a compost heap. So if I just throw it in my normal bin, it still gets burned like all the other stuff even though it is bio degradable. On top of that (not that this would affect me, as I said I didn’t have a compost heap), apparently ”organic plastic” takes a lot longer to compost than most other things, at least this is what a very clever person told me.
  2. Well, you could say even though most of us might not compost it, at least there was no oil involved in its production. Ok, that might be right. But is corn so much better? After all, in the end oil is a natural resource just like corn. The big difference is that a liter of oil might feed your car, but not you. The corn used for ”organic plastic” would and should, however, normally be used to feed people. So the production of an allegedly ”good” product leads to smaller space for agriculture and therefore less food (Just like ”eco-friendly” petrol in Germany) So what’s more important? An empty plastic container or a full plate of corn?

Conclusion: ”Organic plastic” is not an alternative for me either. So I had to go home without my much wanted creme fraiche. I do thank the shop assistant for making me think about another aspect of my plastic dilemma.


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