Mikhaela's Reviews > Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

Plastic-Free by Beth Terry
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Jul 06, 12

bookshelves: how-to, nonfiction, environment
Read in July, 2012

I found this book a half-inspiring, half-annoying read--but excellent for what it promises to do.

Beth Terry does a great job of chronicling the way plastic has insinuated itself into every nook and cranny of our lives at massive and unsustainable environmental and health cost via her own journey to live as plastic-free as possible. And she provides exhaustive lists of tips and resources for eliminating or reducing or reusing--and sometimes just recycling--plastics in every aspect of domestic American life possible. (Though one of the lessons of the book is, sometimes avoiding plastic means giving up modern conveniences--like frozen foods--that just aren't available in wood or cloth or stainless steel).

And I've already taken her advice to watch the bottled water industry exposé Tapped, and have decided to replace all my toddler's plastic dishes (apparently BPA-free plastics are a dangerous untested crock! crap!) with stainless steel ones from Life Without Plastic... among many other changes. And I like that she encourages reuse and buying second-hand or just NOT buying as much as possible and really thinking about the life-cycle of all our stuff...

BUT! In the end I have fundamental problems with the idea that these kind of changes should be focused on the personal or even community level, or that our power comes from our status as consumers. Not that Terry isn't politically active--and she does briefly delve into the toxic afterlife of American plastics and electronics in the developing world, but ... as I read on I just started to get frustrated with her narrow focus on individual Americans making changes in their own lives...

...because I just can't get all that excited about the Chlorox company deciding to accept plastic Brita filters for recycling. I want to see big, bold dramatic agitation and outrage and change, with corporations and manufacturers and politicians and the military and governments--not just consumers--all held accountable for the massive destruction they wreak worldwide.

But that's probably more than one little book like this can do. Still highly recommended if you're trying to live a less toxic life.
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Mikhaela The more I think about it, the more I am annoyed by the super-specific focus of this book... on personal green lifestyle purity and acting as a consumer vs. making real change as an activist. BUT it did inspire me to go read the awesome book The Story of Stuff, which takes an opposite big-picture approach.


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