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Environmental Reads

Plastic Toothbrushes – Looking At Another Student’s Midterm

I decided to review Brianna Hernandez‘s midterm, which analyzed the life cycle of a toothbrush. I thought her discussion on this short-term use plastic was related in part to my midterm choice of the single use coffee pods, since both are made of plastic and plastic takes at least 1000 years to disintegrate completely.

What I thought especially interesting about Brianna’s flyer was that she considered the wide spread use of her product. For my coffee pods, their use is limited to those who can afford the single use coffee makers which often range from $100-$500 depending on the bells and whistles of the model. Meanwhile, toothbrushes are an essential health care item, with many, many producers flooding the market with cheaper options. This leads to a surplus and encourages consumers to use and lose them. When you factor in the doctor’s recommendations of replacing your toothbrush every 3 or 4 months, the amount of toothbrushes tossed by Americans alone becomes astronomical.

Brianna also tied the project to our class readings by mentioning the pollution of water and air by the decomposing plastics as they become microplastics. I also explored this topic in my assignment, and we read about toxins in water streams in Bilott’s Exposure as well as in Bigelow and Swinehart’s A People’s Curriculum for the Earth. The amount of plastics in a human’s bloodstream is affected by their location, their diet, and how clean their water is, which suggests that those in lower socioeconomic areas are being disproportionately affected by the microplastic pollution.

I appreciate how thorough Brianna was with her flyer. She also included some suggestions for how to change our behaviors to lessen our impact on the planet, which is further complicated by the necessity of the product. Hopefully a new sustainably developed alternative will hit the market soon and help in addressing this growing issue.

This post satisfies the assignment 7 requirements for Fall 2020 ESS210 at Drew University.

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