Cover Image: Plastic Free

Plastic Free

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Member Reviews

Plastic Free by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz and Joanna Atherfold Finn is one of the better books about living plastic free / zero waste.
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This book was super easy to read and very informative! I'm new to the idea of a plastic-free movement but books like this are very inspiring!
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Being a Biochemistry Major with a Minor in Environmental sciences, this book is absolutely amazing. Telling the story of Plastic Free July, this book follows this amazing movement from conception to 10 years down the road. This movement over time has gained immense support and has even changed the laws concerning one use plastics in certain countries, and has certainly put plastics and their use and environmental impact on everyones minds. This book is great for describing and understanding the problem of plastic pollution, and gives many useful and helpful hints at converting your own lifestyle to a more plastic free living.

The one gripe I have with this book, would have to be the E-book formatting. The reading became quite chaotic due to the formatting of the ebook. There were more times than I can count on one hand, that a sentence in the middle of a paragraph was interrupted by a quote, or an essay about a particular subject. Then after the quote or essay, the paragraph resumes like nothing happen. This happens frequently throughout the book. Typically this would really annoy me and it did a few times, but since the overall message of the book is important to me, I trudge through.

Other than that, this book is amazing and a great idea creator if you are considering going plastic free or reducing your plastic pollution!
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Rebecca Prince-Ruiz wrote a book chronicling the efforts of herself and others as they encouraged a plastic-free lifestyle. Aptly titled Plastic Free, she tells her story from AHA moment to a yearly movement.

What makes this book different from other eco-living books is that she doesn’t offer out tips on how to make the changes. Instead, she just tells her story of the personal changes that she made. She tells the story of working with others to make bigger impact changes. And she repeatedly reminds readers that every little bit that each one of us does is important and helpful to the healing of our planet. 

She also goes beyond the litter aspect of single-use plastics and talks about why plastics, in general, are a pollution problem. The fossil fuels used to create plastics are killing the planet in numerous ways. Since the mass production of plastics and the utilization of convenience one-use plastic items, the health of our planet has been deteriorating.
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“Plastic Free July” is a grassroots environmental campaign to get people to become more conscious about waste generally and cut down on plastic pollution more specifically. It started in Australia in 2011, and while there is no single methodology by which it is observed the basic premise revolves around getting participants to go “plastic free” to the best of their ability for the entire month of July. Now on its tenth year, Plastic Free July has become “a social phenomenon involving 250 million people in 177 countries.”

Honestly? I’d never heard of it—or at the very least it didn’t ring any bells—until I read Plastic Free: The Inspiring Story of a Global Environmental Movement and Why It Matters. To me, this goes to show that we can’t take for granted that some people may not even be aware of even the most inclusive people’s initiatives regardless of how popular. 

On that score, Plastic Free is a comprehensive chronicle of how “Plastic Free July” came to be. From the telling, it’s no wonder the movement easily gained traction. To start, its point of departure is an issue about which many share a concern (the environment) that is then broken down to a single impactful cause (reduce single-use plastic consumption). Its call to action has a low barrier to participation: try going plastic-free just for the month of July. Most importantly, the campaign tries to meet its advocates where they already are, in the sense that there are no blanket standards it seeks to impose on participants other than that they do the best they can given their individual contexts. 

All these are with the end in view that changing behavior is hard but that small changes can have a huge impact, whether in aggregate or over the long term. 

Much of Plastic Free is dedicated to lessons learned over the course of getting the movement to grow and of strategies that have proven to be successful at sounding the alarm about the harm that single-use plastics pose to our environment. For my part, it was learning through the book that only 9 percent of all plastics ever produced have ever been recycled—and that only 0.9 percent are ever recycled more than once—that now has me mindful of the single-use plastics I consume. This is something about which I will certainly be more conscious for far longer than just one month of the year.
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The author detailed how she became interested in helping the environment.  I was so inspired by this book, as it really is a great example of how one person can make a huge impact.  The challenge to go plastic free for one month started as a small group of people in Perth, but is now a 250 plus MILLION strong community that spans across 177 countries.  I am just amazed at the success of this movement and of how many people have embraced it and are being more conscious about using single-use plastics.
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Thank you to Net Galley for providing an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review. I was glad to find that this book chronicled a plastic free challenge that began with a small group of people in Australia in 2011 and became a worldwide movement. The practical ideas, resources, and links given are helpful for people interested in reducing their plastic use. I also liked that there wasn't a preachy tone that could guilt people over what they haven't done to help the environment in this way.
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I realllllly loved this. Definitely want to pick up the physical copy to add to my own personal library. This book provides an introduction to basic environmentalist concepts (the effects of ocean debris) and as the author recounts her own personal story and her hand in the IG-famous movement, there are lovely little tips for those looking to lessen their reliance on plastics. Easy tips include: replacing single-use plastic bags and straws (save the turtles!). Though none of the advice is particularly groundbreaking, the tone with which Prince-Ruiz write is motivating and as she gently encourages her readers to makes changes.
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When I was in graduate school for environmental policy, a professor assigned the class a questionnaire to determine what our carbon footprint was. I thought I was going to nail it and was shocked when my result showed otherwise. I’ve since realized there continues to be plenty of room for “go green” improvement in my life, particularly when it comes to single-use plastics. But, as the author states: “Making change can start with awareness, and a resolve to do things different.” 

I really enjoyed learning about Plastic Free July, something I had heard of before but didn’t know the history or ins and outs of. I’ve often envied zero-waste influencers’ abilities to make the movement look effortless, as I tend to struggle in my own transformation. In Plastic Free, however, the author actually highlights the challenges associated with those changes, making it more relatable and accurate for an average person like me. Plastic Free has a lot of great information about actually going plastic-free, woven into stories and thoughtful reflections on the author’s personal experiences.

Because of my own studies in environmentalism, I was intrigued by the outreach communications aspect of Plastic Free July: social media campaigns, community involvement, word of mouth, and most importantly, what the overall messaging was (and is). Another part of the book that I’d like to mention is the author’s thoughts on going plastic-free during and post-COVID. I’ll be curious to see the impacts of the pandemic on the movement going forward. 

A really thought-provoking, solid book---one of the better ones I’ve read about the plastic-free movement.
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Plastic Free is a great combination of real-life stories, facts, tips, and an inspiring message of focusing on the positives, sharing solutions, and doing what we can. This non-fiction book focuses on plastic as a symptom of some of the broader global problems like human impact on the environment and climate change. It does an amazing job on presenting the history on the use of plastics and ecological terminology that has become more and more frequent on daily life. The information made known is clear and interesting, regardless on if you see yourself as an environmentalist or not.

Something that I particularly enjoyed was the acknowledgment of cultural knowledge and indigenous sustainability, as well as how the book touches on privilege and the fact that people should do what their situation allows them to. It covers the problem of downcycling, perceived obsolesce, behavioral economics and other themes that relate to society and pollution. It also gives solid advice and ideas on where to start your plastic free journey.

I think the multi-format integration of text, quotes and real-life examples does a great job balancing out, although I do have to say I found some of the testimonials repetitive and it was a bit too long for me.

I didn’t know about Plastic Free July before reading this book, and I really appreciate how it opened my eyes to so many resources and tips that I can use on my daily life from now on. I liked reading about the author’s life and how they became interested in plastic, started a movement, and proved change is a constant thing. The overall message of community collaboration and having people from all over the world acting is a source of motivation, and I agree that “small wins inspire future changes”. 

My favorite chapter of the book was the postscript, where the author talks about the impact of COVID-19 on the Plastic Free movement and briefly questions what will change moving forward. It felt like an honest reflection and I found it really interesting.

Ultimately, Plastic Free is a great book and I would highly recommend. It is completely relevant today and will continue to be so.

Thank you to NetGalley and Columbia University Press for an advanced e-copy of the book.
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This book was super good. It was super original and I flew through it. It didn't feel like anything I've read in the past. Can't wait to read more from the author!!
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This was one of the much better books on the topic of plastic being bad for the environment. The author talks about her childhood and how she became interested in being an environmentalist and someone who cares about the future of the planet. Some of her personal stories are a lot more interesting and why she wants to get other people to become just as passionate as her without sounding like a lunatic. There was actually some humor despite the subject matter, but it was definitely a thought provoking read. I definitely have tried to use less plastic products or reuse them as much as I can, but what then :-(

A better book on this topic and a must if you are into climate change and saving the environment.

Thanks to Netgalley, Rebecca Prince Ruiz and Columbia University Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Available: 12/8/20
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I love reading books about environmentalism, but sometimes it's hard to sift through all the bad books to find good ones. This book was much more interesting than a lot of the books that I have read on this subject. The author managed to really bring the subject to life!
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I'm sometimes reluctant to read "environmental action" books because I find them pretty dry (as much as I care about the subject matter), but I was delighted by this one from the start - it opens with one of the author's personal history, where she grew up and why she's so passionate about the environment. The book continues in this vein for much of its page count. I always feel more "anchored" by non fiction when it's being told by someone who's lived what they're talking about. Interestingly, books about climate change often lack this, because the authors haven't "suffered" the more devastating effects of it yet. Whereas plastic consumption and plastic pollution are facts of life for everyone - even if not everyone has woken up to it yet.

I wouldn't say I learned anything new and mind-blowing from this book (I work for a marine sustainability-focused organisation and I'm already doing what I can to reduce my plastic consumption) but I'm sure it'll be enlightening for a lot of readers; and it's written in such a charming, engaging way. But reading the book really helped to make me feel that my individual actions are contributing to a greater difference. If governments won't step up - I think I'm much more pessimistic about this than the authors are - then it has to start with all of us.

(With thanks to Columbia University Press and NetGalley for an ebook in exchange for an honest review)
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Strong Start, Your Mileage May Vary On Ending. I gotta admit, as an American I'd never heard of Plastic Free July before seeing this book on NetGalley. (And yes, since I am writing this review on July 21, 2020 - the day after it hit NetGalley - and it doesn't publish until December 8, 2020, this is certainly an Advance Review Copy, with all of the things that generally entails.) But the description of how Prince-Ruiz started the organization sounded promising. And the text of the book, for the first half - two thirds or so, showed exactly that promise. Someone deciding independently to choose to do something that could make a difference and work to convince her friends and family to do the same... in the age of social media. The back part of the book, where the organization shifts from voluntary action to political action - which is ultimately *always* at the point of a sword (in Ye Olden Times) or gun (in the modern era) - is more problematic and is where the book will likely be seen as much more divisive. I try to keep my own politics out of my reviews to as much a degree as possible, so I'll simply note that through this section the voluntary actions the author describes are commendable, and I've actually supported a few of them myself, but the less-than-voluntary actions... any time politics gets involved, you invite problems. Ultimately a great look at various things we all can and arguably should do, marred by its descent into politics. Recommended.
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