Although I appreciate Bryan Hewitt's comments in his letter "Who's Responsible for the Gulf Oil?" [June 9], we should keep in mind that far more damage is done to our environment by burning petroleum than by manipulating its molecular structure to make plastics. Imagine the impact on our resources if we — all 309 million of us in the U.S. alone — brushed our teeth with natural-bristle hardwood-handled brushes, or watched our entertainment on mahogany-cabineted TV sets. Granted, far too many needless and over-marketed consumables are manufactured with artificially cheap hydrocarbon-based plastics, but for the things that are relevant — reducing weight for greater vehicle efficiency comes to mind — synthetic polymers are a breakthrough. We have renewable energy, biomass and biofuels at our fingertips — there are far better things to do with our remaining petroleum than to burn it.
— Richard Freudenberger