UNLESS…Earth-Friendly Friday: Book Recommendation – Plastic, A Toxic Love Story

book_plastic_greyThis post is in support of a brand new weekly WordPress blogging event created and hosted by JustAnotherNatureEnthusiast.org.

The theme for the first challenge is Plastic, and I’m submitting a book recommendation.

The book Plastics – A Toxic Love Story, by science writer Susan Freinkel is comprehensive, and a fascinating read about the history of plastic and products familiar to all of us.

I highly recommend if you want to understand our love/hate relationship with plastics. For local residents, it is available at our Monterey County Public Library system.   Introduction below:

Here is an excerpt from a post on my blog right after the book was published:

Ms. Freinkel chooses eight objects to help tell the story of plastic:  The comb, the chair, the Frisbee, the IV bag, the disposable lighter, the grocery bag, the soda bottle and the credit card.

She examines how these objects are made, the history, the culture of plastics, and how synthetics affect our health and environment.

A speaker from a plastics manufacturer’s conference in 1956, is quoted as saying “Your future is in the garbage wagon”.

How true…and it turns out that today, the average American throws away 300 pounds of packaging a year — and this mountain of containers and wrappings accounts for about 1/3 of the municipal waste stream.

Initially, we had to be taught to throw away plastic items — especially after the depression era culture of “use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without”.

But it did not take long for us to absorb the lessons — especially because everyone was becoming more prosperous — at the same time when many disposable products were entering the market.  Life magazine dubbed this (then) new era “Throwaway Living” .

To take part in this timely WordPress challenge topic and to see other submissions for the theme click here (http://justanothernatureenthusiast.org/2015/02/06/unless-plastic/).

This new blogging event is inspired by prophetic words written in 1971 by Dr. Seuss in his book – The Lorax

” UNLESS . . . someone like you

cares a whole awful lot,

nothing is going to get better.

It’s not.”

8 thoughts on “UNLESS…Earth-Friendly Friday: Book Recommendation – Plastic, A Toxic Love Story

    • You’re welcome, Jane. Let me know what you think. It is well-researched.

      The format is easy to relate to as she focused to follow the history of plastics through objects that most of us use daily (comb, chair, Frisbee, IV bag, disposable lighter, grocery bag, soda bottle and credit card).

      • I started reading this morning… Yes, this a well written book. So interesting. I’m thinking about keeping the challenge topic focused on plastic since we only scratched the surface last week. Wonder if each month might have a broad topic with each week as a way to examine subtropics. For example your comment about ocean and plastics could be segue for this weeks focus. I welcome your thoughts 🙂

        • So glad to know you have it already 🙂

          Lots to think about…actually, I think you picked the perfect topic for the first challenge because it is a huge global problem, and I think you are right, it needs to go for the month with subtopics, Jane.

          Hoping the talented photo bloggers eventually join in because the visual is so important (see photo from my twitter feed today at my blog sidebar for ANOTHER disturbing trash photo from the Philippines).

          I also wanted to add to your challenge on “Philippine trash problems” (again, a “re-framing” for the challenge since I have posted several articles prior) because I get daily visits to my blog with that tag line, and need to update the info. Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow if you do a sub topic on ocean trash…

          It is a depressing topic, but I’m trying to stay positive, which is why I’m so supportive of your blogging initiative in the form of further communicating the problem so we can collectively solve! I think it will turn more positive and hopeful as we find and share solutions.

          The report on my tweet is about the millions of tons of plastic trash (plastic bottles, candy wrappers, laundry baskets, synthetic rope, and syringes etc) entering the world’s ocean yearly, which the researcher Jenna Jambeck says is “like five bags of plastic trash on every foot of coastline in the world”. She studied waste in 193 countries — pretty much all the nations in the world.

          She further explains…”if you have waste that’s free in the environment, on the land mass that’s in close proximity to the ocean, it’s going to be blown or be washed into the ocean. It also could be washed into rivers and then flow from there.” Just as you noted on YOUR contribution for the challenge.

          So…any new thoughts about this, Jane?

          For me, as a grandmother, it really was disturbing to learn the facts about plastic waste. Okay, I’m trying to stay on the solutions, so trying to stay positive — which is why I really like the format of your blogging challenge. Very long answer here, ay yay yay!

  1. It amazes me how much we throw away in our culture. When I think about it too much I get so sad. Manufacturers wrap their products in such wasteful ways too and stores always offer you a bag even if for one small item. I do my best by using recyclable bags but it still really bothers me. I imagine this is an excellent read. Wish there was an easy answer.

    • Thank you for the comment, Nicole…

      It does make me so sad too, especially on the packaging part since much of it is unnecessary.

      And here in the U.S., we don’t see as much of the trash problem part because we generally have good waste collection systems in ALL states — unlike in developing countries — and at least for now, still a lot of landfill space.

      I do think there is a shift happening with attitudes and the “throw-away living” part of our society. It is a depressing topic sometimes and I try to stay positive, and focus now on finding and communicating solutions 🙂

      A weekly blogging event like this certainly helps in the “communicating” part!

  2. Thanks for the shout-out for my book. I was discouraged to see recently that plastic production continues to rise — 299 million tons in 2013 — while recycling rates are lagging: only 26% in Europe and a dismal 9% in US. It’s not great that landfills are filling up with plastic stuff, but I think the deeper problem is the linear economy that is behind that waste accumulation. Huge amount of resources are being devoted to creating things that have only the most trivial or ephemeral useful lives. That’s simply not a sustainable long-term lifestyle.

    • I’m happy to recommend your book, and appreciate your comment. It is important to know how we got to “here” and all the problems we will face with plastic trash.

      The recycling rate in the U.S. is totally unacceptable — San Francisco with its “Zero Waste” goals, and businesses like the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company (with a 99.8% trash diversion rate) should serve as a model that IT IS possible to reduce trash going to landfills with strong waste management programs, whether initiated by a city or a business.

      You make a good pint about the items with “ephemeral useful lives”. It is the root cause of much of our trash problems, and this attitude needs to change, globally.

Now that you are here, I would love to know what you think...comments are always appreciated.