Beth Terry is kicking the plastic habit, and she wants to help you live plastic free, too!
I have to confess something here: I have been a big fan of Beth Terry for years. You might know her from her blog Fake Plastic Fish, which she's since renamed My Plastic Free Life. Regular readers here know how I feel about single use plastic, so you can imagine how excited I was to read Beth's new book, Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too.
The book is an empowering, eye-opening look at Beth's journey to a plastic free life. Things start out pretty doom and gloom as you learn about the trouble with plastic, from plastic pollution to health concerns. This passage about the plastics industry's tendency to blame the consumer for plastic pollution really struck a chord with me:
The plastics industry likes to insist that plastic pollution is the fault of careless consumers who don't dispose of their waste properly. And I have certainly seen my share of kids walking down the street leaving behind a trail of trash or drivers causally tossing cigarette butts (which are actually plastic) or other garbage out the window. But these "litter bugs" are not the only source of plastic litter.
There is another source of plastic litter the industry doesn't like to admit to:
Who? What? Nurdle is the nickname for the tiny pre-production plastic pellets that are the basis for all plastic products, They look like tiny, white fish eggs, which is a problem for animals that actually eat fish eggs when nurdles get loose in the ocean. Companies that manufacture raw plastics sell their product in the form of tiny resin pellets to the companies that manufacture the actual bottles, utensils, shower curtains, lunch boxes, cups, toothpaste tubes, or other plastic products that we use every day. The problem is that plastic nurdles can blow away as easily as plastic bags or wrappers. And they do.
Plastic pollution from nurdles is a huge problem, and I have to admit being pretty bummed out as I learned about this side of the plastics industry. What I love about this book is that even during the depressing first chapter, Beth reminds you over and over that the book as a whole is going to be solution-oriented, and she definitely has lots of practical, real-life solutions from her plastic free life. I particularly liked her quick list of questions to ask when you're buying personal care and cleaning products:
- Can I find the product in solid or powdered form without any plastic packaging? Have I checked resources like Etsy.com?
- If not, can I make it myself from packaging-free ingredients?
- If not, can I find the product in bulk so I can fill my own container?
- If not, can I substitute something else? Maybe there is an alternative which is similar enough or would satisfy the same need.
- If not, do I really need it in the first place?
- If yes, can I find it in compostable cardboard, metal, or glass?
- If not, can I buy it in a large size with less plastic packaging?
- If not, can I find it in packaging that is easily recyclable where I live?
She even has a section on "combatting hopelessness," because when you look at the big picture ditching plastic can be a little bit overwhelming. Her tips?
1. Breathe - Sit quietly, meditate, and give yourself a moment to catch your breath.
2. Spent time outside - Reconnect with nature and clear your head.
3. Spend time with the people you love - These are the people you're doing this for, right? Enjoy them!
4. Read inspiring stories - Find people who are walking the talk and let their stories drive you to do better.
5. Write it down - Put pencil to paper to help you refocus and work through the stress of this big life change.
6. Ask yourself what one thing you can do right now - Ditching plastic entirely is a big job. Break it down into smaller tasks to make it manageable.
7. Congratulate yourself for your progress - Sometimes when we are doing something big, we lose sight of how far we've come. Pat yourself on the back, already!
8. Make a game of it - This is your life change, so set your own rules and make it like a game. Beth goes into the rules she set for herself in the book, and I think they're a great jumping-off point for reducing your plastic consumption.
Whether you want to get plastic completely out of your life or just reduce your plastic consumption, I can't recommend this book enough. Beth doesn't share just facts and concepts. She pours her real-life experience with plastic free living onto the pages of this book, and it's inspiring.
Toot toot! This review is part of the Plastic Free blog tour. Lots of other green bloggers have shared interviews, reviews, and favorite moments from Beth's new book, and I highly recommend checking them out! You can find some of the previous blog tour stops over at Mindful Momma and Condo Blues, and there are reviews coming up later this week at It Starts with Me and Almost All the Truth.
Have you guys tried to cut back or cut out the plastic in your life? I try to avoid buying new plastic whenever possible, and I'd love to hear how you guys are moving towards plastic free living in your day to day!
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by geoftheref