The Great Pacific Garbage Patch covers approximately 1,6 million square kilometres, plastic has been found at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest oceanic trench on Earth, and by 2050 there could be more pieces of plastic in the ocean than fish. These are the facts Lucy Siegle tells us in the first part of this book, along with the backstory of the plastic dilemma, the truth about recycling, and the way plastic is pushed on us by retailers and manufacturers. In the second part, she provides a “plastic survival plan”, consisting of simple tips and practical how-tos.
It is pretty clear that Siegle absolutely knows what she is talking about right from the start; she has done the research, visited the waste and recycling facilities, cleaned up beaches full of plastic, talked to scientists and activists, and is an activist herself. This is of course a good thing because it lends weight to her words, but on the other hand, it only made me long for even more information. She gives an overview of the history and the techniques of the production and recycling of plastics, but it left me with a lot of questions about the details. Also, she almost never looks at other countries and their systems in comparison, but instead stays focused on the UK, which makes some of the tips not applicable for readers like me that live in another country.
Overall, it is more of a guide for people who are only beginning to concern themselves with the plastic problem, and she has a lot of suggestions that can be easily implemented if you are just starting out. I especially like that she is adamant about the fact that it’s not only on everyone to do their share, but that every little bit helps. It’s always easy to say that one person’s, or one town’s, or even one country’s plastic reduction is nothing in the grand scheme of things, but someone somewhere has to start. Educating people on this subject is often a thankless and difficult task because the attacks from the numerous naysayers won’t take long, but I think that Siegle is just the right kind of encouraging and inspirational for this and almost never comes across as preachy or patronizing.
To sum it up, if you are just getting into plastic reduction and need some practical tips on how to go about it, this book offers a very good start. For more advanced environmentalists I only recommend it with some reservation because there are other books out there, ones that go further beneath the surface and take a more comprehensive approach. Still, she has some suggestions that I haven’t heard of and find useful, and that I will definitely try to incorporate into my everyday life.
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