Mar 23, 2013

Our Intern Visits Plastics Unwrapped at Burke Museum

As we can see, plastics are everywhere in our lives. Plastic products have made our lives more convenient, colorful, and some would argue even safer. Could you imagine life before plastics? In the "Plastics Unwrapped" at Burke Museum I found out just that. I also learned how they are made, why they’re so convenient, and what happens once we throw them away.

When plastics first debuted, they were marketed as the “material of the future”. Now they are used in science, health, and everyday life. With so much being used, a global problem has emerged: plastics pollution. In order to counter the impact of plastic wastes, we need to rethink our relationship with this material. 

Here are several shocking facts about plastics from the exhibit:
  • 3,000 plastic shopping bags are used every quarter of a second in the United States. Hooray Seattle for our recent bag ban!
  • 650 lbs. of the long-lasting goods are used in less than a second. 
  • Almost 14 million tons of packaging is generated in the U.S. each year! This including plastic bags, bottles, lids, wrappers and containers. Out of this, only a fraction of those are recycled- about 12% of bags and 29% of bottles.
  • 170 lbs. of e-waste is produced per second. (In 2005, about 304 million electronics were disposed from U.S households- two thirds of them still worded.) Check out this King Country e-waste recycling site for your stuff!
  • Over 9 million pounds of waste was removed by volunteers from beaches all over the world last year- which most of, we're--you guessed it--plastics.

A few photos from my trip:

Check out the "Plastics Unwrapped" exhibit yourself, they are open until May 27, 2013. The Burke Museum is open from 10-5pm and is free for UW students as well as to the public on First Thursdays. More information is available on their site.


  1. I love your blog efforts here! Thanks so much for this post. I used to work in a plastics plant and I couldn't really agree more. Are there any eco-friendly long term hotels Seattle adjacent that you know of? It would help me incredibly on my upcoming trip.

  2. So glad you enjoyed the post! We just had an event at Olive 8, it's a Hyatt hotel in the heart of downtown Seattle. Tons of green features including an amazing locally sourced restaurant. They also have resident spaces, so I wouldn't be surprised if they do extended stays as well. Worth a look; enjoy your trip!