PhD student, Rice University
Contributor, Platypus: The CASTAC Blog
Katie Ulrich is a PhD student in Anthropology at Rice University. Her research is on science and biotech in Brazil.
Contributions to Platypus: The CASTAC Blog
What would plastic containers, cosmetic fragrances, and paint thinners be made of if we stopped using petrochemicals? Some plant biologists and biotech companies are suggesting an answer: sugar. Amid calls for people to change the fossil-fuel consumption habits that drive climate change, replacing petroleum-based fuels with renewable ones frequently takes center-stage. However, we often overlook how petrochemicals—chemicals derived from petroleum, the mixture of hydrocarbons extracted from the ground as crude oil—pervade our everyday lives as an invisible ingredient in a vast array of ordinary materials and items, such as plastics, food preservatives, synthetic clothing, tires, and even toothpaste. (more…)