Meghan's Reviews > Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them

Moby-Duck by Donovan Hohn
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Jan 04, 2012

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Read from December 31, 2011 to January 04, 2012

I spotted this last week on one of the countless best-of-2011 lists (maybe NPR's), then couldn't put it down. He uses a single container ship spill -- when thousands of colorful bath toys splashed into the Pacific and began journeys to remote Alaska beaches and elsewhere -- to illustrate what our obsession with plastics is doing to the ocean. Really strong reporting and storytelling, save for a rambling section at the end about Arctic research and save for this section that left me wanting more evidence:

"Never mind that only 5 percent of plastics actually end up getting recycled. Never mind that the plastics industry stamps those little triangles of chasing arrows into plastics for which no viable recycling method exists."

So we're all just doing this to feel good about ourselves? Shit.

He goes on: "Never mind that plastics consume about 400 million tons of oil and gas every year and that oil and gas will in the not too distant future run out. Never mind that so-called green plastics made of biochemicals release greenhouse gases when they break down. What's most nefarious about plastic, however, is the way it invites fantasy, the way it pretends to deny the laws of matter, as if something -- anything -- could be made from nothing; the way it is intended to be thrown away but chemically engineered to last. By offering the false promise of disposability, of consumption without cost, it has helped create a culture of wasteful make-believe, an economy of forgetting."
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