Poem of Plastics


This poem is based on the history of the development of plastics and was recently commissioned at the We The Curious After Hours event on Climate Change in Bristol. I was personally challenged throughout this process to think about my impact on Earth and my relationship with plastic.

Step into the history of plastics and you will see,

It’s all around you,

It’s in your hands,

It’s found in the great beneath,


It started in natural form in 1284,

Made from tortoise shells and horn,

The idea went quiet in Europe,

And laid dormant for six centuries forlorn …


Then it burst through in the 1800s,

With a telegraph cable made from Gutta Percha,

It was laid by a submarine in Dover,

And in 1880 cellulose nitrate replaced horn for a fashion take over,


Nylon arrived in 1938 with a suit and bow tie,

And handed us a bouquet of toothbrushes,

PTFE came on the scene and saved us from burnt food,

And the timeless superglue was discovered in 1942,


Squeezy bottles for shampoos and soaps came soon after,

And vinyl rocked our living rooms in 1949,

Lego made toys of cellulose acetate,

And in 1962 our boobs became plastic fake!


The first-generation mobile phone came out in ’79,

And that was the humble beginnings of colour and design,

In the 80s and 90s we saw plastics in high performance,

And they really began to show their dominance,


In ’82, a plastic heart was made and implanted in a human,

And in 88 the triangular symbols for recycling was born,

In 1994, the smart car with lightweight polycarbonate hit the road,

To help with the shopping load,


In 2001 we got the iPod dreamed up by Fadell,

It burst into explosion with the expertise of Apple,

In 2008 the Airbus with carbon-fibre reinforced plastic flew,

It landed with sauve into Heathrow,


And now, although plastics blood saves us by mimicking haemoglobin,

And we have a bullet proof super Polymer that’s Texan,

142,000 square metres of PVC fabric was used in The London Olympics,

1,000,000 tonnes of PVC products are be used in Europe,

And this year more than 480 billion plastic bottles will be sold around the world.