Here's funny thing. How much do we like plastic? As humans the thrust is negative, we are now coming around to the fact that wrapping things in plastic and then chucking it in the sea is a bad idea - well everyone except the Americans. As modellers though, the pattern is the opposite - in the last twenty or thirty years we have increased the use of plastic ten fold as year on year more and more minor items are made in styrene and as we speak the upward technology is 3D print; plastic again. In other words it is almost impossible to be a modeller without using upward of 70% plastic on the layout.
I wrote an editorial for 009 News last month on just this issue and have received a small postbag from people who are still using waste card and wood for a lot of their modelling work. However they are mightily in the majority. I also shared a video on FB a few days ago which is on Phil's blog to your right featuring a railway built almost entirely from card. This is quirky in the extreme and although is a fun approach, it isn't what most of us would aspire to, being that most of us seek to create something which is more representative of the real thing, which this frankly isn't.
What then is the answer to all this? Do we blindly continue as normal and accept all the plastic goodies with relish, or do we step back a little and consider if we can or need to change something. I've stated here several times that I'm not a Metcalfe kit lover (though they can be improved). Superquick are a tad better to my eyes, but card buildings are not for everyone. Though I'm still sure that let's say 'the beginner' could build a new simple layout from scratch using just these materials and a minimal amount of plastic. I wonder if this could be a future project for me or someone else to try and how effective it would be compared to the plastic heavy version? I'll chalk that one up as a possible - on my blackboard, not my wipe clean plastic whiteboard, naturally.