Book review: ‘How To Live Plastic Free’ by the Marine Conservation Society

Guest book reviewer (and my better half) Mrs V has always felt very strongly about living life in as eco-friendly a way as possible – and couldn’t wait to start a ‘plastic detox!’

How To Live Plastic Free book

Having been an early adopter of carrying my own cloth shopping bags and selecting loose fruit and veg in supermarkets, I’ve been a firm believer in the ‘3 R’s’ (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) for as long as I can remember.

But, if I’m being honest, over the last decade I have let my standards slip. In that time two things have happened that have made me often choose convenience over the environment. Firstly, my husband and I moved away from living in a city centre where we were within walking distance of a local greengrocer that allowed us to refill our own containers with pasta and rice and cleaning products. And secondly, I became a parent.

Weak excuses, I know, but it’s the truth. And it’s why I jumped at the opportunity to read and review How to Live Plastic Free: A Day in the Life of a Plastic Detox’ by the Marine Conservation Society.

The book is written by three experts in the field of conservation and marine biology. They outline in no uncertain terms why the current situation needs to change: by 2050 we might have more plastic than fish in the sea.

This is not only having a significant effect on our marine environments, but also the toxins found in plastics are posing a huge risk to our own health which could see a rise in problems with fertility and even brain development.

As the book points out, we humans invented ‘damaging and poisonous waste’ and we are the only animals who produce (vast quantities of plastic) waste that are of no use to another organism in this big circle of life!

But it’s not all doom and gloom. As its title suggests, ‘How to Live Plastic Free’ is laden with hundreds of practical hints and tips about how to reduce your own personal plastic use, from today.

Tips vary from recipes for easy and healthy homemade snacks or cleaning products (thus reducing your consumption of single-use plastic wrappings and containers) to information about where to source plastic-free sports equipment. Handily divided into different areas of life, such as ‘bathroom’, ‘babies and kids’, ‘the office’, ‘after-work activities’ and ‘special occasions’, the book is very easy-to-read and accessible for all.

‘How To Live Plastic Free’ has certainly inspired me to change my recent complacency. There’s been lots in the media about the importance of carrying our own drinks bottles, coffee cups and shopping bags, and it’s encouraging that businesses are now changing their ways here. But this book has helped me to reconsider my consumer footprint like never before.

Here are three immediate changes that I have already made after reading this book:

No more meal-deals! Nearly everything in a meal deal is packaged in single-use plastic. I already mostly take packed lunches in a re-usable container each day, to help keep costs down. But on days where I don’t have a packed lunch, I will be finding somewhere that makes fresh food where I can turn down any plastic packaging.

A bathroom product overhaul. I admit, I hadn’t ever really thought about what happens to a plastic toothbrush after it has been used! But I’ve now made the switch to compostable bamboo toothbrushes for the whole family, as well as toilet roll in compostable wrapping and re-fillable shampoo/conditioner/shower gel. We’re lucky enough to have the wonderful Christine’s Sustainable Supermarket nearby in Bradford-on-Avon, where I can obtain all of these fabulous goodies. But if you are not near a similar eco-establishment, why not appeal to your local shop to think more sustainably?

Children’s party bags. Does any kid really need to leave a party with a small plastic bag full of plastic ‘toys’ that will break within 48 hours and be thrown straight in the bin? No! So this year I am trying to keep our son’s (paper) party bags as plastic-free as possible. A little book, wooden yo-yo, a packet of seeds, chocolates in a cardboard box or tube and slice of cake should suffice!

I have greatly enjoyed being reminded of the environmental impact of my consumerism through reading this fascinating and helpful book.

We can’t change the world overnight, but I wholeheartedly recommend ‘How to Live Plastic Free’ to anyone else hoping to make their own lifestyle changes in response to what could arguably be called the greatest environmental challenge of our time.

After all, every great journey begins with a small step…

How to Live Plastic Free by The Marine Conservation Society is published by Headline Books and available to buy from Amazon. Follow the organisation on Twitter at @MCSUK and join the conversation with #STOPthePlasticTide.