Plastic is the material environmentalists love to hate, but it's getting a bad rap, writes author Susan Freinkel in the New York Times. These days, plastic is equated with junk and litter because we waste it on things like shopping bags and drinking straws. "If we understood plastic’s true worth, we would stop wasting it on trivial throwaways and take better advantage of what this versatile material can do for us," writes Freinkel.
We can use it in green technology, for instance—think "solar panels and lighter planes and cars." We also have the technology to make better, safer versions in ways that reduce our carbon footprint. In short, plastics aren't to blame; it's the way we use them that's the problem. "In a world of nearly seven billion souls and counting, we are not going to feed, clothe and house ourselves solely from wood, ore, and stone," writes Freinkel. "We need plastics." (Read more plastic stories.)