A Plethora of Plastic In reminiscing about my career, where I addressed needs of preschool and school-aged students, I have a twinge of remorse. In retirement I have become more aware of community health and safety issues, including the impact of plastic waste on our bodies and our food chain. Even with the removal ... Inbox
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A Plethora of Plastic
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School-Based Settings / Professional Issues & Training / Speech, Voice & Prosody / Inbox
Inbox   |   August 01, 2016
A Plethora of Plastic
The ASHA Leader, August 2016, Vol. 21, 4. doi:10.1044/leader.IN2.21082016.4
The ASHA Leader, August 2016, Vol. 21, 4. doi:10.1044/leader.IN2.21082016.4
In reminiscing about my career, where I addressed needs of preschool and school-aged students, I have a twinge of remorse. In retirement I have become more aware of community health and safety issues, including the impact of plastic waste on our bodies and our food chain.
Even with the removal of BPA from many toys and feeding utensils, the new iterations of plastic are mostly untested. We know that plastic never biodegrades, but only turns into smaller and smaller bits. We also know that recycling plastic can only go so far—eventually it ends up as a high-numbered commodity that no manufacturer wants to use.
As one clinician, I am responsible for so many broken plastic toy prizes, contaminated disposable oral-motor tools and discarded plastic gloves now in landfills. And all those single-use plastic bags and do-dads from convention! We do have choices—and can advocate for more choices. How about metal slinkies rather than plastic ones, paper or metal (or other reusable) straws instead of plastic, and vegetable sticks for oral-motor work?
Also significant is the impact of putting plastics in the mouths of our patients—as the saying goes, “If it’s on you, it’s in you.” Thank goodness that we are a creative group, since we must invent new solutions to our unique plastic problem.
Grace Gifford, Conway, South Carolina

Many communication sciences and disorders professionals share your concerns and have adopted more eco-friendly treatment tools and practices. Thank you for reminding us of our responsibility to our clients and to the environment.

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August 2016
Volume 21, Issue 8