cheltenham chamber of citizens

The topic of plastics will be looked at in 2 articles on this page:

Part 1: What is plastic, how is it made, how it contributes to climate change, and in

what other ways is plastic a problem? What each of us can do about plastics.

Part 2: What are seen as the pros and cons of eliminating single-use plastics in our Township? What is currently being done about plastics in other places? Suggested approaches for helping to get laws passed that eliminate plastics in our community.

Plastic is a non-biodegradable, chemically dense, petroleum-based material. To make plastic, scientists have to take base materials, such as crude oil, and transform them via heat, additives, manipulation, and time into a workable polymer. 

The process, as with most chemistry, usually begins with the base materials. The majority of plastic products are made using a petroleum base. Though the main component of most of these plastics is crude oil, other materials, such as salt, cellulose, natural gas, and coal are also sometimes used. 

 Philly Talks Trash: A Virtual Series on Waste

A seven-week course offered online and hosted by the founder of Beyond Plastics, Judith Enck. 

This is an in-depth masterclass on all things plastic pollution-related. Judith Gratz was lucky enough to get a place in the Spring session.  If you would like to be notified when registration opens for the Fall 2022 course, please email keliebowman@bennington.edu. The course can be audited or taken for college credits. 


According to This Is Plastics, those base ingredients are then refined via

the plastic-making process into things like ethane and propane. The
resultant ethane and propane are then heated in a process known as

cracking, until they transform into the monomers ethylene and propylen

and others.

What you can use instead of single use plastics....


  Click the image

to learn what NOT

to recycle.


What else you can do....




by Judith Gratz, Environmental Educator

These may represent big changes in your lifestyle, and in our throw-away culture in general. But once each change is integrated into a person’s lifestyle it becomes second nature.



1. https://www.greenmatters.com/p/how-plastic-made

2. https://www.nationalgeographic.org/article/whopping-91-percent-plastic-isnt-recycled/

3. https://www.iucn.org/resources/issues-briefs/marine-plastic-pollution

4. https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/hazards/marinedebris/plastics-in-the-ocean.html

5. https://ocean.si.edu/conservation/pollution/marine-plastics; https://www.google.com/search?q=how+big+is+the+plastic+island+in+the+pacific&rlz=1C1CHZN_enUS970US970&oq=how+big+is+the+plastic+island+in+the+&aqs=chrome.0.0i512j69i57j0i22i30l3j0i390l4.8282j1j15&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

6. https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/ocean_plastics/

7. https://www.beyondplastics.org/plastics-and-climate

8. For the full report read: chrome-extension://efaidnbmnnnibpcajpcglclefindmkaj/viewer.html?pdfurl=https%3A%2F%2Fstatic1.squarespace.com%2Fstatic%2F5eda91260bbb7e7a4bf528d8%2Ft%2F616ef29221985319611a64e0%2F1634661022294%2FREPORT_The_New-Coal_Plastics_and_Climate-Change_10-21-2021.pdf&clen=7438959&chunk=true

9. https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2021/10/21/plastics-coal-climate-change

10. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969721054693

11. https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/plastic-pollution-climate-change-1245402/

View Judith's presentation on single use plastics at the 2022 CCC Annual Meeting

 Bennington College Center for the Advancement of Public Action: Beyond Plastic Pollution

National Geographic states that just 9% of plastics are 
being recycled.   Some of it is put into landfills. Much plastic 
waste ends up on the ground, in our waterways, and 
eventually in our oceans.     There is a raft of plastics 
in the ocean known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,
which is twice the size of Texas.  That’s 617,000 square miles! 
This is a global tragedy for the oceans and sea life.   Research 
by the organization Beyond Plastics has revealed that
“plastics are the new coal”.   The report is available online 
so you can read it entirely.   Other sources weigh in on it and 



3, 4

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Source: http://b.parsons.edu/~pany468/parsons/political_website/source2/index.html

9, 10, 11

There is a growing global alliance of more than 1,200 organizations, businesses, and thought leaders in 75 countries working toward a world free of plastic pollution and its toxic impact on humans, animals, waterways, the ocean, and the environment.

Some plastics ARE needed at this point, such as those used in the medical field. On the other hand, there are many ways in our daily lives that we can eliminate or significantly reduce or use of plastics, especially single-use plastics, the ones we use and dispose of almost immediately.

​It is up to us to make choices that eliminate single-use plastics until local, state, and federal governments ban them.

Instead of balloons choose more eco-friendly decoration options like paper lanterns, recycled bunting, DIY bubble blowers and flowers.

Instead of plastic water bottles use reusable bottles. If you are set on using bottled water, get a large dispenser and refill your reusable bottle. Not difficult to get and to reorder; and some companies deliver them to your door!

Instead of single-use plastics you may be currently using, glass, pottery and ceramics can provide alternatives, depending on the situation.

Bring your own garment bag to the dry cleaner.

Start a compost pile so when you change to compostable items you’ll have a place to make soil. There are many videos to show you how, from the simplest pile to the more complicated styles. Here’s a starting place:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/27/realestate/how-to-compost-composting-food-waste.html

Cook more rather than buying prepared foods or overpackaged foods. Look at food packaging critically.

Support a bag tax or ban.

Buy in bulk. You can probably use your own containers.

Buy compostable clothing and shoes.




A crude oil sample

part one

A monthly online program  to educate and inspire you to participate in the imperative shift toward the new paradigm of zero waste, replacing  our throw away culture and help to slow climate change.  For details and to register go to  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/philly-talks-trash-a-virtual-series-on-waste-registration-239186502267 ( Thanks to Bonnie Hay. )

Instead of plastic bags use canvas or nylon bags.

Instead of plastic straws use straw alternatives made of stainless steel, bamboo, pasta or rice. For those that like the flexibility of plastic straws there are other eco-friendly alternatives including paper straws, reusable silicone straws and compostable plant-based straws.

Instead of takeaway coffee cups, which can’t be recycled because they’re made with a plastic lining, use reusable cups such as those made of metal.

​​​Instead of plastic dishes and cutlery use compostables, which are made of bamboo or other plant-based materials.
Instead of plastic stirring sticks use a metal or bamboo spoon that you carry with you in car, briefcase, or purse, etc.

As monomers, ethylene and propylene can then be transformed into subsequent polymers via a catalyst. Once that catalyst is added, the plastic polymer exists in a powdered form known colloquially as fluff. The fluff is fed through a heated extruder, where it melts down and forms a long, workable pipe. Once the pipe cools completely, the plastic is cut into smaller pellets once more. At this point, the heating, cooling, and manipulation has made the plastic workable enough that it can be melted and molded into any number of other products. 

Plastics Europe asserts, however, that not all plastic polymers behave this way. There are two main kinds of plastics that come out of the plastic-making process: thermoplastics, which can be melted, molded, and cooled until they harden, and thermosets, which are not meltable once they have been cooled. The process to transform ethylene and propylene into polymers releases toxic emissions in the air. The resultant gases include dangerous chemical compounds like benzene, ethylene oxide, ethylbenzene, and nickel, which can create clouds of toxic gas both in and around plastic factories.

Climate change is a big contributor to so much more flooding in Cheltenham Township. Global warming, exists for many human-made reasons and causes climate change. Plastics are a serious contributor to this. Plastic is pollution which contributes to climate change at every stage of its life cycle: extraction from the ground, production, distribution, use and disposal.