Author Archives: Susan Freinkel

Building Bridges from Bottles

Tom Nosker, a polymer engineer at Rutgers University, has invented a method for turning used plastics into an incredibly strong, durable building material. In Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, I describe how a New Jersey company is using Nosker’s technology … Continue reading

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A New Bag Battle

  In the old days — say, four years ago — bag battles  were centered on the plastic or paper question. Which was always something of a red herring since the issue at stake is really our dependence on single-use … Continue reading

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Blight to Beauty

Plastic shopping bags may be a blight on the landscape, but Jessica Lee, a student at Parsons The New School of Design, has found that these puffs of polyethylene also contain a certain hidden grace. For her thesis project, Lee … Continue reading

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To Burn or Not to Burn

The U.S. has a dismal record recycling used plastics: scarcely seven percent get a shot at a second life. But the plastics industry is starting to rally behind a new option for dealing with plastic waste: burning it for energy. … Continue reading

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Plastic Portraits

Tess Felix, a Bay Area artist, wrote me recently about work she has been doing with plastic beach debris.  Felix said she first got the idea after a huge storm in February, 2010: [It] washed tons of plastic garbage out … Continue reading

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Dispatches from battles of the bag (updated)

I’ve been meaning for some time now to do an update on the ongoing fight over plastic bags.  It is, forgive the pun, a mixed bag. On the plus side: the suburban D.C. area of Montgomery County, Maryland, passed a … Continue reading

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Creative lids

There’s a great piece by Nicola Twilley at on the rise of the disposable coffee cup lid, and the astonishing variety of ways in which designers have responded to the challenge of capping a portable hot cup of joe. … Continue reading

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God in three easy steps….

Open. Bless. Toss. Who knew you could get salvation on the go: A friend told me about these single-use communion kits. I looked online and discovered several companies offer these portable  communion kits, which, as one company put it, “combine … Continue reading

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Sometimes a chair is more than a chair

This essay is adapted from my book and appeared on the Speakeasy at on May 7: The Kartell store in San Francisco is a monument to plastic. The place glitters like a diamond, or rather, a cubic zirconium — … Continue reading

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The Ongoing BPA Battle

The plastics industry has been touting a recent study by German researchers that concluded that the chemical bisphenol A is safe.  Written by an advisory committee to the German Society of Toxicology, the report was based on a review of … Continue reading

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