September 8, 2016

Plastic Free by Beth Terry

So I've been reading Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too by Beth Terry, and it has been turning my life upside down.
I have always been someone who cares about the environment, from that time eleven-year-old me cried after school because we learned that the polar bears are headed toward extinction, to the common sight of undergrad me agonizing over which clay pots to fire. ("If I put this piece of bad art in the kiln, these clay molecules will be converted to a permanent material and it will never again be dirt -- only bad art forever!!")
I have only read the first few chapters of this book, but I just can't shut up about it. Though a part of my eco-conscious brain was already awake to the fact that everything we buy, consume, and encounter all day everyday is indeed plastic, I had quieted that voice for a long time out of convenience and comfort. Everything you buy is wrapped in plastic and probably made with plastic too.

In short - plastic is a problem for several reasons: 

  1. the process of producing plastic is toxic to us and the environment
  2. plastic objects leach a ton of barely regulated, toxic chemicals into our bodies
  3. plastic never decomposes 
  4. plastic waste is making its way into the world's oceans 

Beth Terry states, "Why create disposable containers and packaging out of a material meant to last forever?"

Image by the Plastic Free Ocean Campaign

I suspect that a lot of people stop right there. My dad stops listening right there. Most of my friends and family stop listening right there. It's a normal reaction. Why do people tend to stop caring and dismiss the conversation about change? If you really do believe how bad the plastic problem has become, then guilt follows. Being overwhelmed follows that. That's a lot of discomfort! Heck, my library's copy of "Plastic Free" is ironically covered in plastic. Boo, Library.

I can't change how other people think or believe or act, but I do know that I can make a lot of changes in my own life to lessen my impact on the environment. I can also start blogging about how I make my artwork more eco-friendly. I have already been doing that for years. "Recycled materials" is often written in the tag of the artwork that I share with you on this blog, but why has it never been something that I explained or championed? I'm going to start doing that.
I can share and re-share this crazy post I wrote on Earth Day last year: "Happy Earth Day: Ways to Reduce Your Environmental Impact as an Artist".
Lastly, I will be sharing any new resources or developments of my own story here.

If any like-minded readers have any suggestions or resources they would like to share, please leave them in the comments below!


  1. First, this book looks and sounds super interesting, I have to found out if it's also available in german!

    I am in the middle of changing my life in some ways (this sounds a bit dramatic but it's also true).
    A few months ago, I stumbled upon the "minimalism" thing. It somehow caught my attention, I watched a lot of videos on youtube about it, started following some inspirational people and got deeper and deeper into this topic. I realized how much stuff I owned, and how much of it I don't use anymore, don't need anymore... I started sorting out, sold loads of stuff on ebay, donating to charity shops and got rid of things that didn't make me happy.
    (I'm still not done, I guess it will take a few more months or even years, but it feels amazing and I love it!)

    Through this massive decluttering, I also realized even more how much garbage I produce and how much these topics are linked with each other and the more I thought about, the more it shocked me. So I started to deal with other topics, like for example waste free grocery shopping. I can't say that I do this fully and 100% (at this point I still buy a lot of stuff in plastic, yeah), but I managed to change some things in my life, some parts where I will no longer produce any plastic trash, and that is, at least, a beginning, something I'm actively doing, something where I know "I no longer support this industry and therefore I do NOT produce this kind of plastic trash" (I don't use shower gel or shampoo anymore, I found some great alternatives and it really makes me happy, because it's a small step in the right direction).

    I think if everyone would be a bit more conscious about this plastic problem, and if everyone would change a bit in their shoppping and living habits, it would make a huge difference.
    But of course this is naive wishful thinking.
    I can't force all the people in the world to change their habits, BUT I can change MY habits! :) And that's what I started doing. I can't cut out all of the plastic in my life, but I can reduce it. And that's a start.

    Well, I hope you understand the essence of what I was trying to say, I'm not feeling good today and my english is not working as it's best right now, but I loved your post and it instantly caught my attention, so I wanted to share a tiny bit of my story :)

    Have a lovely weekend! <3

    1. Thank you so much for sharing, Maya! It makes me feel good to hear that someone else is feeling the same way and trying to make changes in their own life too. We should talk more at some point about minimalism, because I have always found that fascinating. I especially think it's hard for artists to have less objects around because so many things are needed for art-making.

      Anyway, thank you for the thoughts and have a lovely weekend too!