How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too
By Beth Terry, 375 pages, Skyhorse Publishing, plastic-free binding $16.99
Book Review by N. R. Mallery
This is an updated edition of Beth Terry’s 2012 book. In it, she continues her quest to live plastic-free. “Most books,” said Terry, “are full of plastic.” Most of us are unaware of this, until we pick up this book, and then we immediately note the natural, uncoated cover, and that the spine is unbound. The book’s pages are stitched with cotton thread and binding is finished with plastic-free glue.
Thus, your first exposure to the book makes you understand that plastic is everywhere! You come to see why trying to get away from plastic could seem daunting. To accomplish what the author has done in her own life to kick the plastic habit, is a real eye-opener.
The author’s account of waking up to the plastic issue in her own life is humorously described. It led her to a shocking photo that changed everything. It was of a decomposed carcass of a Laysan albatross. The flesh of the chick had fallen away to reveal a rib cage filled with plastic bottle caps, disposable cigarette lighters and even a toothbrush — in a bird that was out in the middle of nowhere in the Pacific Ocean. Huge numbers of baby albatrosses die of starvation each year.
The day she saw that photo changed her whole life, starting by looking at her own personal plastic consumption. Shocked by the amount she was using, she figured out how to get around without all of this waste, that could eventually end up in one of three areas of the oceans called “plastic gyres.” Beth has gone from personally generating almost four pounds of plastic waste per month to a little over two pounds per year! The average American generates between 88 and 120 pounds per year.
Her quest led her to a better lifestyle all around including eating habits. She learned much about plastic to which she had been oblivious, including the types of plastics and the good and the bad effects of each; the whole process of recycling; packaging; and the 4 R’s: refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle. She says we should use the word refuse mostly as a verb instead of a noun — to refuse to use plastic.
And while Terry tells of her own plastic-free journey, she does not push it on readers, but hopes to simply help us to be more aware of just what we all are doing to this world around us and even to ourselves. The book includes many exemplary stories of plastic-free heroes, including an octogenarian woman, Jean Hill, from Concord, Massachusetts, and what she accomplished in her own community. Terry’s research has been beautifully presented in this entertaining, educational, and thought-provoking book. We can all benefit by reading it and then sharing it with our own circle of friends and family.