I’ve just finished reading Beth Terry’s new book, an inspiring guide to rethinking our plastic-laden lives.
Plastic is an amazing invention—-so light! so resilient! so malleable! But the fact is, we’ve gone way overboard with this material. I won’t argue with anyone who says there are applications for which plastic is invaluable and irreplaceable, because I believe that’s true. Unfortunately, most of the plastic we “consume” today is completely expendable, throw-away crap. It’s also a waste of resources, polluting, toxic and kills wildlife. For these reasons, I want to avoid plastics to the greatest extent I am able, and I highly recommend this book to others with plastic qualms.
There are several things I like about “Plastic Free.” The scope is comprehensive. Much information is provided, with abundant links and referrals to other resources, so you can delve as deeply as you wish into the many problems related to the huge quantities of plastic waste we generate, as well as solutions to those problems. But it’s also a fun and interesting read. It’s a story of Beth’s personal journey, and I believe most of us will be able to identify with her starting point:
Before June of 2007, I lived the plastic lifestyle. It’s no great surprise. Most of us do; it’s pretty standard in the United States. It’s a lifestyle of consumption, enabled by convenience. We can get pretty much anything we want, pretty much whenever we want it. We don’t have to think about the costs…. We don’t have to think about the consequences…I generated bins full of plastic trash, but what did I care? I didn’t see where it went.
At the same time the book provides multiple valuable tactics for the most practiced plastic-dodgers. Even though I think I’m getting good at it, I picked up several new tips and tricks. On cheese, for example. I can’t tell you how many plastic bags of grated cheese are in my past. But I’m not buying pre-grated, over-packaged cheese anymore. Instead, I bought a big chunk of cheese, grated it, and stored it in glass jars in my freezer, like Beth Terry does. Why didn’t I think of that before? I learned that many foods can be safely stored in glass jars in the freezer.
After each chapter dealing with a specific category of plastic products, the author offers a checklist of things you can do to limit the use of plastics, from basics like carrying your own reusable bags, to becoming a more outspoken advocate for change. Each checklist has a kind and reasonable preface:
Choose the steps that feel right to you. Then, as an experiment, challenge yourself to do one thing that feels a little more difficult. Only you know what that one thing is.
The book ends with nine compelling reasons to rethink your own plastics consumption, and a vote of confidence in your efforts to change and affect change.
Whoever you are, whatever your age, gender, or economic status, there is something for you to do in the fight against plastic pollution…. All talents and skills are needed.
I’ve given this book to a few friends who are aware of and disturbed by the plastic plague, yet feel overwhelmed about how to even begin.
Want to lessen the impact of plastic on Earth, improve your well-being and peace of mind? “Plastic Free” is an excellent place for beginners to start, and a very useful, motivating resource for those already committed to the cause.