There’s No Great Future in Plastics

This episode is all about a world without plastic. What would that look like? Is it even possible? 
 Today, plastic is seen as one of our great environmental enemies. But it actually wasn’t always that way. Bradford Harris, a historian of science and the host of a podcast called How It Began: A History of the Modern World, and Susan Freinkel, a journalist and the author of Plastic: A Toxic Love Story, walk us through how plastic started out as a solution to unsustainable practices. Then we talk to Sherry Lippiatt, California Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program, about what exactly is going on with garbage in the ocean. And finally I visit Danielle Trofe at her studio in Brooklyn, where she grows sustainable materials using mushrooms. 
 Further reading:
 Debbie Chachra on peak plastics
 "On a scale beyond all previous conceptions" [electronic resource] : plastics and the preservation of modernity
 Bradford Harris: Plastics and Sustainability
 Our 'Toxic' Love-Hate Relationship With Plastics
 99 Percent Invisible: The Post-Billiards Age
 Plastic waste inputs from land into the ocean
 There Is No Island of Trash in the Pacific
 Global Plastic Production Rises, Recycling Lags
 Different Types of Plastics and their Classification
 Health risks posed by use of Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) in PVC medical devices: A critical review
 How Stuff Works: bioplastics
 Taxation and Regulation of Plastic Shopping Bags in Botswana and South Africa 
 GROW: A Lamp YOU Grow from Mushroom Mycelium
 Flash Forward is produced by me, Rose Eveleth. The intro music is by Asura and the outtro music is by Hussalonia. The voices from the future this episode were provided by Lisa Pollak, Arielle Duhaime-Ross, Brent Rose, Victor Dorff and Mary Beth Griggs. The episode art is by Matt Lubchansky.
 If you want to suggest a future we should take on, send us a note on Twitter, Facebook or by email at We love hearing your ideas! And if you think you’ve spotted one of the little references I’ve hidden in the episode, email us there too. If you’re right, I’ll send you something cool. 
 And if you want to support the show, there are a few ways you can do that too! Head to for more about how to give. But if that’s not in the cards for you, you can head to iTunes and leave us a nice review or just tell your friends about us. Those things really do help. 
 That’s all for this future, come back next time and we’ll travel to a new one.

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