Credit cards are called plastic money. ID cards, security passes, library cards, even store reward cards are all plastic. But paper bills are literally becoming plastic too. Why? We live in a petrochemical world where everything in our life is made out of plastic.
The Romans used salt as money. Pacific Islanders used shells or huge rocks. Surely, security has been achieved in forms other than plastic? But today, governments are so security conscious, nothing can be done unless it meets certain industry standards. Otherwise, no one can secure any funding, and no one will use it. So we live in a follow-the-bandwagon society.
When we analyzed the threats to ancient empires, it became evident that environmental destruction created social stress, followed by social collapse, and political collapse. So the only way the political oligarchy can protect itself is to protect the environment. So who dictates these standards? How can they be motivated to become greener? Will there ever be a time when we can wean ourselves off of petroleum?
The International Card Manufacturing Association (ICMA) apparently recognizes public concerns for ecological sustainability, and therefore responded with a voluntary EcoLabel Standard program. But what happens to credit cards after they expire? Most people cut them up and dispose of them in the trash! So why are credit cards manufactured to last forever when most are designed to be used for only 1-3 years? Instead of just using recycled plastic, perhaps we can add biodegradable components to them, and manufacture them like America cars whereby they self-destruct after X years.
I noticed something rather interesting though. What do people find at the beach more often? Not credit cards, but plastic soda bottles and plastic bags. Things that are relatively worth-less, and if you think you are being green by driving it to the recyclers, you consume more petroleum to get there. Is there no way out?
Many countries today, like UK, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore - all the former British Empire countries are already using plastic (polymer) bank notes in place of cotton notes. Are they following the same bandwagon, or perhaps they are all one and the same?
Nevertheless, according to environment magazine, plastic bank notes are superior to paper notes: (1) It lasts longer - obviously, it's been lasting in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans for decades! (2) They claim it doesn't retain as much germs as paper money. That might be debatable, because plastic chopping boards were found to have germs. (3) plastic contain no lint fibers, so it doesn't jam up ATM machines. (4) They also say plastic is recyclable. That might be the greatest benefit of all! We may never eliminate plastic from our environment, but unlike credit cards, bank notes do not expire; and unlike soda bottles or plastic bags, they hold value. In order to prevent unwanted plastics from entering the world's oceans, perhaps the optimal use of plastic is to recycle as much of it as possible into bank notes. After all, when there is a high value attached to each bill, no one will deliberately throw it away; and if found, it will always be picked up!