Have you ever been in a social setting and someone asks what you do for a living? You pop up your chest, stand a little straighter and reply ‘I’m in the Chemical Business’. Or, do you actually stand up straighter? Rather you might temper your answer depending on the audience.
I imagine the chemical industry is celebrated in places like Houston, Delhi, Antwerp, Singapore, and Shanghai – but in Seattle, there is an audience always ready to malign our chosen profession at any opportunity. Sometimes I am in position at the family dinner table to have to argue (i.e. defend) my positions on things like why the XL Pipeline should cut across Nebraska, and have documented my thoughts on fracking as a necessary technology risk while alternate energies become more viable.
At a convention of the National Association of Chemical Distributors (NACD) a few years ago, I got into a choice discussion with a female guest who spent much of the day roller blading while our group was in sessions. When she took the time to ask about our business, she came over the top with the usual ‘chemicals are bad’ generalizations and I proceeded to explain to her how chemicals were rooted into her life (products in her hair, makeup, pigments in clothes, textile chemistry, etc..). The best moment for me was when I focused on the wheels of her roller blades and was able to talk about the reaction of such substances as Isocyanate and Polymer being reacted to create PolyUrethane Resin, basically the entire wheel. And every time she slid on those wheels, a little slice of this nastiness is released to the environment. So much for her ‘green’ workout.