Lessons From Our Lives with Plastic
Photo credit: NOAA
Featuring Odile Madden, Research Scientist, Museum Conservation Institute
We live in the Age of Plastic, surrounded by synthetic materials that have transformed our lives in mundane, amusing, and profound ways. Pervasive and terrifically useful, plastic is still a young and evolving material. What does the evolution of plastic polymers show us about the unexpected consequences--such as material failure, resource depletion, waste management, and risks to human health and the environment--of commercial innovation? What are the successes and what are the tradeoffs to using this astonishingly diverse material? And what more can we learn from the use of synthetic materials to motivate change and drive continued innovation?
Part of the monthly Anthropocene: Life in the Age of Humans series hosted by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.