I remember the first time I had a conversation with someone about bottled water. I was probably pretty obnoxious, heh. But I knew that bottled water was just such a terrible waste. My friend believed that if you drink the water and recycle the bottle, what’s the harm? I pointed out the processing behind creating the plastic, the fossil fuels used in the bottling process as well as transportation, and the energy required to recycle the bottle itself (which, frankly, the majority of people don’t bother doing.) She protested, saying that the bottled water just tasted better and besides, tap water is the same water that you use to flush the toilet! ew!
Yes, tap water is the same water you use to flush the toilet – which, frankly, is a waste of good tap water. Water from your tap is regulated far more stringently than bottled water is – and in fact, much bottled water *is* simply tap water, just prettily packaged and marketed (and why not? Bottled water companies make a FORTUNE off it, because normally, it’s free). This is one fact among many that i learned in reading Plastic Purge: How to Use Less Plastic, Eat Better, Keep Toxins Out of Your Body, and Help Save the Sea Turtles! by Michael SanClements. This fun and interesting book relays the history of plastic, the process of creating it, the benefits of plastics (because yes, there are many, many and many) as well as the drawbacks (because yes, there are many of those too).
SanClements challenges us to look at plastic in a new way, to embrace its advantages and also acknowledge the fact that we as a society generally use it poorly. We overuse, we waste, we use it in inappropriate ways, and we fail to challenge the status quo. Do we really need to have pieces of cheese individually wrapped in plastic? Do we really need clamshell packaging for our lettuce? Do we really need to put a head of broccoli in to a bag at the supermarket? What can we do differently? He also makes the excellent point that plastic is made from petroleum. And all this plastic we have sitting in landfills is still a petroleum derivative – and is, therefore, still a source of energy, if we were able to capture it instead of just throwing it out.
The book is filled with interesting anecdotes (history of tupperware, anyone?) as well as practical tips (you may be recycling things you shouldn’t actually be recycling!) and suggestions on what types of plastics to avoid the most and – crucially – how best to avoid them. For example, did you know that those “microbeads” in many facial products or toothpastes are actually teeny tiny bits of… plastic? Yuh-huh. YUCK. And those little teeny tiny bits of plastic are getting flushed in to our water system and all those little fishies are eating them – fishes we, in turn, consume. There are plenty more tips throughout the book, and will inspire and empower you to turn away from plastics – easily – in your own life.
Ultimately, Plastic Purge is engaging, effortlessly readable, and highly enlightening. Even for someone who has been obnoxious about plastic before. Also check out the video from author Michael SanClements if you get a chance!
You can get the Kindle edition on Amazon, the Kobo or Paperback edition at Chapters, and the iBook version on iTunes.