Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Plastic-Free: Kick the Plastic Habit

It all started about 5 years ago, when a friend of mine told me about this thing called the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch."  Great Pacific what?  Plastic ocean?!?  Curiosity took over and I began googling and read my first article about plastics-- "Our Oceans Are Turning to Plastic, Are We?"  Reading that article along with seeing the countless images of animals negatively impacted by our plastic waste set me off on the beginning of a long journey to reducing my plastic waste-- day by day or sometimes more like month by month... I worked on reducing the amount of plastic that I used.  But it wasn't something I could do alone... ok, well... maybe I could... but as I started moving past simple things like not buying bottled water, I often became stumped and had to start researching.  That's when I came across Beth Terry's blog now known as My Plastic-Free Life.  Turns out Beth had read that exact same article and just like that she "woke up to plastic."
Now years later, I'm still not done reducing my plastic-waste and I'm still not done learning "why" we should all take steps to reduce the amount of plastic we buy, use, recycle and throw away.  But, as much as I've learned over the years, to be honest... I still need reminders.  You see, I'm the type of person that when I learn something, it sticks with me... BUT... while I don't forget... I do often let the details slip my mind.  Sometimes-- especially with plastics-- when I let the details slip, I find that I'm not as strong with my commitments.  Which leads me to Beth's new book: PLASTIC FREE: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too.  

Before 2007, Beth was addicted to plastic (well, not knowingly anyway)... then that one day when she read "Our Oceans Are Turning to Plastic, Are We?" and saw a picture of decomposed Laysan albatross chick.... the reality of her plastic filled lifestyle and the consequences it had began to set in...
Photo Credit: Chris Jordan
First she was heartbroken and sad.  Then she got mad and wondered why no one was doing anything about this??  Knowing full and well that she couldn't personally go out into the middle of the oceans and clean up the plastic mess... she made the connection and realized there was one thing that she could do.  She could start with herself.  She remembered that her actions make a difference and personal changes really do matter.  In Plastic-Free, Beth discusses 9 reasons why our personal changes matter and here's one of my favorite reasons why:

 By letting others see our personal changes, we set an example of a different way to be.

It's true.  By going out into the world and doing what we do-- whether it's picking up litter, taking our own bags to the store, carrying a reusable water bottle, saying "no thank you" to single-use items like straws or having the courage to use our voices for change-- we share with others what's possible.  

But back to the details.  Sure we know there are problems with plastic...and when we start reusing, reducing and refusing it... others want to know why.  No, I'm not allergic to plastic.  But the reasons I choose to refuse and reduce the amount of plastic our family uses is summed up quite nicely in Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You can Too.  Of course, Beth goes into really great detail in her book Plastic-Free, but here's the gist of why we should start and/or continue efforts to reduce the amount of plastic we all use:

1. Plastic is Made from Fossil Sources
2. Plastic Contains Toxic Chemicals (cough BPA, Lead & Cadmium, Toxic Flame Retardants)
3. Plastic Manufacturing Plants Harm Workers and Pollute Communities
4. Plastic is NOT Biodegradable
5. Plastic Pollutes the Ocean, Harming Both Wildlife and Humans
6. Plastic Pollution Doesn't Just Come from "Litter Bugs"  (nope, sure doesn't)
7. Plastic Recycling Doesn't Close the Loop  (it's actually downcycling)

So what are we waiting for? Let's start a plastic-free revolution.  Let's imagine a world free of plastic pollution and create that world.  We can do it.

...and Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too by Beth Terry is the perfect tool to start your journey to a life with less plastic.  To learn more about Beth's book, the praise it has received and how to buy her book, please go here.

"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time.  We are the change that we seek." 
~Barack Obama