Jargon Watch: Plasticarian

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According to Sarah Morrison in the Independent,

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) issued startling advice last week, warning pregnant women to take a "precautionary approach" and avoid food in plastic containers or cans where possible. The report highlighted "endocrine-disrupters" found in certain plastics, including Bisphenol A plastics (BPAs) and phthalates, which can disrupt normal foetal development. ...The RCOG report noted that there was "considerable uncertainty about the risks of chemical exposure".

It has been suggested (although not by such an august group) that it isn't such a good idea for children, teenagers or any woman of child bearing age. There isn't just the issue of health and safety either; there is also the waste, the fact that so little of it is recycled, the chemicals and fossil fuels used to make the stuff. That's why some people are calling themselves "Plasticarians" and trying to live a plastic-free life.

Beth Terry wrote the book on the subject: 'Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too' (I reviewed it here). A google search of her site doesn't turn up the term. Outside of a reference to Pamela Anderson in 2007 and another in 2009, Chemistry PhD Thomas Smith appears to coined the term in the interview for the Independent. His reasoning:

I came to the realisation that in modern lives we come into contact with plastic constantly; the idea is you get the package, use it, and throw it in the bin. But in reality, a bit of plastic you had for a second lasts longer than your lifetime.

It isn't easy; to avoid using plastic, Smith had to make his own soap.

It can be quite difficult to find fruit and veg not wrapped in plastic. I went to small shops, but toilet paper was a hard one. Toiletries were also hard, toothbrushes and toothpaste....Internet shopping was difficult because anything that comes through the post is usually wrapped in plastic; even going to a concert and buying a drink was hard. It arrived in a plastic container.

It is a noble cause, but I do wonder about this word. I asked Beth Terry what she thought and she responded:

I think the word doesn't make sense. It sounds like someone who consumes plastic, rather than the opposite. I can see the usefulness of a word like that, but I don't think plasticarian is quite it.

But it might have legs nonetheless; it has already made the urban dictionary.

More in the Independent

Tags: Bisphenol A | Plastics