Picnic Tables That Help Solve a Plastic Problem
When consumers buy groceries, clothing, fast food or practically anything else, it almost always involves plastic. I don't mean the kind of plastic that has value like a credit card, but plastic that is worthless once used. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), low-density polyethylene (LDPE), polypropylene (PP) or even polystyrene (PS) are some of the most common types of plastic that you will buy, or have handed to you because of your purchase. We have become dependent on plastic. Plastic straws, plastic plates, plastic cups, plastic milk jugs, bottled water in plastic bottles, plastic laundry soap containers, plastic siding, plastic insulation (polyurethane), plastic equipment cases, plastic coated cardboard containers for liquids like milk, plastic coated furniture and wood to make it last longer and even plastic trees. Try to think of purchases that didn't involve plastic! Manufactures are designing products made of plastics that must get thrown away which is a huge design flaw. Plastic is a great material when it is used in the right kinds of products like recycled plastic picnic tables.
Plastic is a unique material. It can last for hundreds or even thousands of years without breaking down into its previous state. Even when plastic does start to break down, it breaks apart into smaller and smaller pieces until it becomes microplastic. Microplastic, because of its properties, will absorb chemicals like DDT and it's degraded versions that are just as toxic. So where do most of these plastics and microplastics live? You are probably thinking it's getting recycled right? Wrong!
Only 6.5 percent of all plastics get recycled and 7.7 percent gets burned for its combustible value. The rest is still here on the planet somewhere. All the plastic ever made that hasn't been recycled or burned still exists today! Some of the rest ends up in landfills where over hundreds or thousands of years will leach nasty chemicals into the ground water - your drinking water and where your bottled water comes from! Oh but wait, I said some of the rest didn't I? According to Columbia University's article named, “What Happens to All That Plastic?”, 100 million tons of plastic has become marine debris and is floating around our oceans getting consumed by all types and sizes of marine life. In turn we consume this marine life and ingest this plastic and its nasty hitchhiking chemicals also! Studies show that most people test positive for some of the 35 odd nasty chemicals that could basically only have been absorbed by this plastic!
So how do picnic tables fit into all of this? How can picnic tables help solve a plastic problem? These picnic tables are even made from the exact same plastic that can cause this plastic problem! When we think about plastic, we imagine thin and flimsy products that are easily damaged, but these picnic tables are made out of thick and heavy recycled plastic so they are extremely durable. These picnic tables are designed to last for a hundred or more years like other plastic products but they are designed to be something that we actually want to have around that long! The plastic that is used in these picnic tables has been diverted from landfills, oceans, your drinking water and your dining table. Being made from solid recycled plastic, these tables withstand just about anything that is thrown at them. Here are a few of their features that a common wood picnic table, fails at miserably:
- Rot proof - wood rots of course!
- Water proof - wood can easily be damaged by exposure to water whereas plastic remains unaffected.
- Insect proof - termites and other insects can eat right through wood and make it their home but they hate plastic.
- No maintenance - no re-sanding, no replacing of rotted boards, no finishing the first time or refinishing after the original coat fails and in both these cases, toxic paint, oil, or varnish eventually end up coming off and becoming yet another type of pollution that gets into the environment.
- Cleaning recycled plastic picnic tables is easy. You can remove everything from bird poo to graffiti with soap and water.
- Graffiti resistant - you can use an heated repair tool to smooth out any gouges in the finish. Go ahead, try getting rid of that “Johnny loves Marry” etching in a picnic table top made of wood!
- They are practically theft proof to all those but the extremely determined as the larger models can way in excess of 450 lbs. That, by the way is roughly 15,000 20-ounce bottles diverted from the landfills and oceans.
- All of this performance from materials that where thrown away.
- Since these picnic tables are made from recycled plastic, not a single tree dies in the process of producing them!
A picnic table is just one of many examples of waste plastic being put to good use, but to be made from recycled plastic, it must have a source. We can do better than a 6.5 percent recycle rate and we will have to if we want clean, chemical-free food and water. We as consumers have a voice. We can set new standards for manufacturing simply by refusing to buy plastic products that are disposable. We can buy smart - metal straws, cups and lids that get cleaned and reused, cloth grocery bags and other reusable products so that they never need to be thrown away. For now, these recycled plastic picnic tables are helping to solve the plastic problem but it is only a band-aid on a much larger issue. If we continue to support an industry that makes disposable products out of plastic, we are in fact supporting the destruction of wildlife and even our own health. So the next time you sit down on a comfy picnic table somewhere in a park to have your lunch (a plastic free lunch we hope), think about what you can do personally to recycle plastic and to find alternatives for disposable plastic.