The Carbon Footprint of Plastic

We’ve been discussing the materials used in our new house and are pretty set on not using any plastic. However, there are a few key places where it might be extremely helpful so I decided to look into how bad it really is (from a carbon footprint perspective). I am still strongly opposed to having exposed plastic that would off-gas and degrade into the air, but if it is built into the structure maybe I wouldn’t mind quite so much. Here are the numbers I came up with:

  • 600 square feet of 6 mil plastic → 100 kilowatt hours of electricity
  • 100’ of 3/4” PEX tubing → 45 kilowatt hours of electricity

This is only counting the manufacture of the materials I believe, not the transport of the finished product. for a reference point, our current house uses about ~120 kilowatt hours of electricity per month. The average home in the US uses about 800 kilowatt hours. This will be helpful in determining when we want to use plastic.