‘Plastic Purge’ Helps Readers Save the Planet

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Plastic — it’s all around us, all the time. Many people don’t even realize how prevalent it is in their lives. But what do we really know about plastic? Where does it come from, and is it really safe?

Author Michael SanClements answers these questions and more in his book “Plastic Purge: How to Use Less Plastic, Eat Better, Keep Toxins Out of Your Body, and Help Save the Sea Turtles.”

Although the title is a mouthful, the book itself reads like a conversation with a friend. Nonfiction books can sometimes be discouragingly boring, but “Plastic Purge” captures readers’ attentions right from the shelf with its eye-popping neon cover. It also brings a unique sentiment to the table in that it calls readers to action instead of just trying to scare them.

Okay, so most people know that there is a lot of pollution going on, and have heard about climate change. Most people would like to do something about it, but what? What can we do to help save the Earth? SanClements breaks it down simply in his book, balancing astounding facts and figures with personal experience. An ecologist with the National Ecological Observatory Network, he has a surprisingly conversational writing style that is very persuasive precisely because he leaves out or explains most of the jargon that would normally bog down a scientific read.

First, he sorts the different kinds of plastics into groups he calls “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.” This makes it easy to distinguish between good uses for plastic (like computers and cell phones) and bad ones (like PVC shower curtains and disposable cups).

Then he delves into the history of plastic, summed up for readers with the highlights pointed out, because, as he explains, it can be a tedious subject. This part of the book was actually fascinating: how could we not know where plastic comes from when it’s constantly around us? For instance, he explains that plastics became popular because of nylon tights and World War II — a war that, without plastics, might have turned out very differently.

After that, however, SanClements gets on to the really interesting part: how to use less plastic, which not only helps the planet, but makes people healthier too. Saving the sea turtles and losing weight at the same time sounds pretty awesome, no?

He gives readers lots of tips for avoiding or repurposing plastics, and even rates tasks based on the difficulty. Some easier tasks include investing in reusable shopping bags or water bottles. Harder tasks could be finding toiletries that do not come in plastic containers—a surprisingly difficult task.

Although it sometimes feels overwhelming, “Plastic Purge” gives readers tips, resources and motivation to help them make better choices. In this way, it goes one step further than most environmental books, proving that one person really can make a difference in this big old world.

This is the kind of book that every member of the modern world needs to read in order to keep the Earth clean and healthy for future generations.

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