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All Things Considered

How Fossil Fuels Helped A Chemist Launch The Plastic Industry

A century ago, people relied on nature to make basic things: toothbrushes were made of silver, combs were made of ivory, and clothes were made of cotton. In a lot of ways, life as we know it today, is possible because of plastic. We can now afford phones, computers and medical devices in part because of one chemist's discovery a century ago. But his descendants have some regrets.


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