As the fruits of autumn inspire us to start baking in earnest, we tune in with relish to watch seasonal programmes on our plastic television sets. In Great British Bake Off, one contestant was shamed because they left a sheet of acetate (very useful baking material) to hold together their rapidly melting cake as it was being judged. This got me thinking:
Is plastic the culprit here or the person?
This multi-use, acetate sheet was so effective in its properties to hold food together hygienically and without sticking, that maybe the contestant couldn’t help but use it, even though the judging outcome was risky. No doubt she would be using this invaluable plastic sheeting again, much like many other multi-use plastic baking aids – a bit like the ones currently being showcased in a MoDiP exhibition dedicated to the Tupperware story:
|A nifty floursifter to add a lighter than air dusting of flour|
|A handy cruet seton a stand to stylishly season a savoury bake|
Where we aren’t quite so clever is where we have been quick to demand low cost, convenient, single-use plastic ‘consumables’ that we have gladly gobbled up and chucked out in the kitchen bin. Of course, no one would choose to drown the ocean in plastic – right? – but we are contributing to the problem every time we throw away a single-use item of plastic. We are in effect the culprits.
We need to think ethically about the plastic problem. People in plastic houses maybe shouldn’t throw plastic pellets around but instead think long and hard about the consequences of their actions.
Using plastic instead of animals, trees or rare minerals does have its ethical place in the world, but our insatiable demand for everything now, everything cheap and everything easy, makes ‘plastic the solution’ become ‘plastic the problem’.
We do need plastic in our lives - quite a bit of it - not just to help us cook, but to aid healing, build sustainably and replace animal derived products…however this means that as well as appreciating the creative potential of plastic, we need to understand the parody of plastic, and make sure it doesn’t turn everything we touch…well, to plastic.
The Midas Touch effect is starting to jump up out of the sea to bite us – the King didn’t want to eat a golden apple any more than we want to eat plastic fish. And what of the poor fish? They’ll have plastic worms for their catch of the day – neither will make the ‘specials’ board.
Better stick to Bake Off cake in that case, but then again, you can’t always have your cake and eat it.
Julia Pulman (Engagement Officer)