What's so great about polymers?

Why would we want to use polymers to make stuff? What about other materials, like wood, metal, glass, or ceramics?

Let's pretend that you own a company that makes apple juice. What would you use to make the bottles - metal, plastic, or glass?

Most polymers are:

Also, by choosing the right kind of polymer, our product can be soft or hard, flexible or stiff, or most anything we want.

Most polymers will last a long, long, long, long time. That's good - especially if you use them to make clothes, jars, even chairs. But it's bad when polymers get thrown away. Some polymers are easier to recycle than others. It's important to recycle the polymers that we can, like drink bottles, so that our landfills don't get filled up so fast.

Most polymers are safe and non-toxic. That's good. The monomers that are used to make polymers, though, are often toxic or stinky. That means that the companies that make polymers need to be very careful not to let the monomers get out before they're made into polymers.

Companies also have to think about what people would like to buy. Many people like the look and feel of a heavy mug for hot chocolate, or the beauty of a table made from real wood. So, it doesn't look like we'll have an all-plastic world anytime soon!

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