Plastic. It is everywhere. And in some very surprising places, too, like lining aluminum cans and coating receipt paper.
I never realized how much plastic was in my life before reading Beth Terry’s book, “Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too.”
“Plastic Free” is a funny and informative book about Beth’s realization that she had a plastic addiction, and what she did about it. In a very blog-like, conversational manner, Beth breaks down exactly what plastic is, what those numbers on the bottoms of plastic items mean, and what problems plastics manufacturing and recycling have created worldwide.
We have all heard of and hopefully adhere to the traditional three “R’s”: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Beth introduces us to a fourth “R”: refuse. She questions whether or not we really need all of the plastic packaging and products that are used by today’s consumers. Her goal is to create a personal awareness and sense of responsibility in each of us for our plastic consumption. She encourages us to refuse plastics for these reasons: environmental and health.
Some of the environmental issues she highlights are the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the permanence of “disposable” plastic, and the nature of the chemicals found in plastics. For example, plastics are derived from hydrocarbons and the majority of hydrocarbons are found in fossil sources such as crude oil, coal and natural gas. She believes reducing our demand for plastics is one more way to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
She also explores the health impacts of some of the other chemicals found in certain plastics such as Bisphenol-A, Phthalates, Perfluroinated Compounds, and many others. Reading about these chemicals has definitely made me stop and think, “Should I be exposing myself to this?”
Terry decided she wanted to limit her exposure and decrease her environmental impact.
A good part of this book details how she did just that, how she has transitioned her busy, everyday American lifestyle to become less plastic. From food to personal care, she covers a wide spectrum. She encourages buying in bulk (remember to bring your own reusable containers) and she shares simple recipes she has discovered for making cleaning products and a variety of other things.
She includes countless resources and multiple checklists and challenges to help us, the readers, to think about plastics and our society’s reliance on the convenience associated with disposable products. With waste transfer stations, plastic bag bans and oil and gas drilling hot topics in our valley at present, “Plastic Free” will open your eyes to an even bigger picture and challenge you to take a closer look at your personal plastic habits.