Books & Resources

Book review: F**k Plastic: 101 ways to free yourself from plastic and save the world

It’s book time again. And for July, there can only be one topic: The big P-F goal.

Pocket-sized and 128 pages long, F**k Plastic (no named author) is a quick read. Most of the ideas are on a single page so you can easily rattle through all of them in an afternoon. Or even an hour, if you can shut yourself away somewhere for that long,

Some reviews say the book’s a bit basic. It is in places. But that’s one of the things that makes it good.

We all have to start somewhere and there are loads of quick and easy ideas to float your (plastic-free) boat.

Setting the scene

Before cracking into the tips, the start of the book explains why the plastic issue is so awful. It includes some alarming stats, such as:

  • A plastic bag is used for an average of 12 minutes but will still be here in 100 – 300 years;
  • 8 million pieces of plastic enter our oceans each year;
  • There’s currently 51 trillion microscopic pieces of plastic in the sea;
  • Some experts estimate that by 2050, 99% of seabirds will have plastic in their stomachs.

Of course, much work is being done across the globe to raise awareness and inspire change. But it’ll all be meaningless if we don’t take practical steps individually to do things differently.

I know it can seem daunting and inconvenient to make changes. And so many brands and producers don’t make it easy either. Having a steer in the right direction can really help.

There are also ideas for making a wider difference and having an impact beyond the way you live your own life. Things like lobbying your local MP about plastics. And writing to businesses to tell them you’ve found their plastic waste where it shouldn’t be e.g. on the beach, in the countryside etc.

If you want to go even further to call out plastic pollution, the book suggests you take a photo of the offending item you’ve found, making sure it clearly shows the brand name. Then put the pic up on social media with the hashtag #ReturnToOffender. This initiative was started by Surfers Against Sewage, an amazing environmental charity which has been going for 30 years.

More brands than ever are interested in reducing plastic pollution. Or at least it seems. The more pressure we can put on them as consumers, the better.

Core sections and highlights

The 101 tips in the book are divided across the following categories:

  1. Food and drink – 32 tips
  2. Around the house – 27 tips
  3. Lifestyle – 30 tips
  4. Saving the world – 12 tips

So what are the best tips? Well, what suits you most will really depend on your lifestyle. No matter which you choose, there are so many quick wins you can take away and start doing today. Most are easy to stick with too.

My ten favourites are:

  1. If you’re having ice cream on the move, go for the cone option, not a tub.
  2. Don’t choose multi-packs of cans which are often wrapped in plastic e.g. tinned tomatoes and baked beans.
  3. Use white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda for home cleaning (for more info, see my earlier post).
  4. If you do buy a plastic packaged item, go as big as you can e.g. shampoo, washing up liquid etc. The large size takes up a smaller surface area than multiple smaller bottles.
  5. Try a natural air freshener – apparently eucalyptus branches smell great when exposed to shower steam.
  6. Avoid plastic wrapped flowers and grow sweet peas at home. This is quick and easy to do and they also look great as cut flowers.
  7. Give experiences as gifts, not physical items.
  8. Ditch plastic tape for paper tape (see my earlier post for more wrapping inspiration).
  9. For kids parties/gatherings, make food hand to mouth friendly so cutlery isn’t needed, make cakes and biscuits or buy from a local bakery, plastic-free. Avoid glittery, shiny banners and use plain paper bags for party bags.
  10. Get into plogging. This is picking up litter while jogging – keeping fit and helping the planet. What’s not to like?

Bonus material

If you’re a keen bean and want to know more about the environmental issues caused by plastic, you could read more around the source materials. There are 37 references listed at the back of the book.

If you have older kids, you could encourage them to read the reference materials too and then chat about them together after. The more awareness we can raise, the more change will happen. That can only be a good thing.

Please do check out the book and let me know what you think. I’d also love to hear your favourite tips in the comments below. And if you have any tried and tested ideas for going plastic-free that aren’t covered in the book, please do share!

F**k Plastic: 101 ways to free yourself from plastic and save the world, Seven Dials, Orion Publishing Group, £6.99 available online from www.orionbooks.co.uk

 

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