Most people live a "lifestyle of consumption, enabled by convenience", perhaps because "we don’t have to think about the costs, beyond what is printed on the package or on our receipts. We don’t have to think about the consequences." One of the biggest problems we face is plastic, which is turned into inexpensive products that are not designed to last and "are packaged so that they can wait indefinitely on store shelves for our sudden desires". While some call plastic addiction the “crisis of our civilization”, it's really just a reflection of the real issue - "the biggest challenge is paying attention".
These are quotes from Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too, a book by Beth Terry, who educated herself about environmental, health and political issues surrounding plastic and found ways to get it almost entirely out of her life. Her passion lead her to pen a now very successful blog called My Plastic-Free Life that inspired the book, both in which she shares her personal journey and offers accessible solutions without imposing guilt. But her driving forces goes beyond plastic - there's a bigger message within her words that encourages people to start thinking and living differently to achieve longer, happier lives.
The book clears up a lot of confusion by providing answers to many popular questions, like:
What is plastic? And, how is it made?
Are plastic containers safe? What do the numbers on them mean?
What's the deal with recycling plastic?
Is it really take bad if I buy water in plastic bottles?
What should I do with the plastic I already own?
What is biodegradable vs compostable?
What is BPA, PVC and phthalates?
Do my body care and household items have plastic in them, and if so, what should I do?
and pretty much everything else you've ever wondered about plastic
I love Beth's writing style - she made me laugh and kept me engaged page after page. I found myself highlighting so many phrases that resonatated with and shocked me - here are a few of my favorites:
"The bottled water industry spends over $150 million per year on advertising in the United States to convince us we can’t be healthy or satisfied without its product"
"Plastic is not the enemy. It’s a symptom and symbol of an attitude of obliviousness to what is really going on in our world, in our lives, in our bodies, and of a way of life that is no longer sustainable. If we can examine and change the fundamental ways we view our- selves and our relationship to the rest of the world, we can solve the plastic problem from the ground up"
"Whoever you are, whatever your age, gender, or economic status, there is some- thing for you to do in the fight against plastic pollution. There are so many ways to reach out and connect with the wider world. There are so many different ways to participate in this global movement. All talents and skills are needed. Just pick one thing and get started."
"Many businesses would like to go further and eliminate other forms of plastic packaging. But the only way they’ll take these steps is if they know their customers want it. It’s up to us to write letters, send emails, speak to market managers, and organize our communities to ask for what we want."
"It just requires the willingness to speak up with polite conviction. A smile goes a long way, too."
"Follow the 4 Rs: refuse to buy single-use disposable packaging whenever possible; reduce the amount of unavoidable plastic we do consume and choose only those plastics that can realistically be recycled where we live; reuse plastic products when appropriate (some are not healthy to reuse); and recycle whatever is left."
"Learning to live simply with a few, good quality, multifunctional items and resisting the urge to buy more is challenging in our acquisitive, consumerist society, but ultimately satisfying."
Obviously I highly recommend you check out this book and there are three super eco ways to read it:
download it to your mobile devide (currently available through Kindle and Nook)
borrow it from your library (request it if they don't have it yet)
If you're reading this before August 22nd you can join the EvG Book Club's discussion on Google+, which Beth with be joining to answer questions! I can't wait to hear what you think when you're done reading it - please share your thoughts in the comment section below.