Plastic: A Toxic Love Story

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Apr 18, 2011 - Nature - 336 pages
4 Reviews
Plastic built the modern world. Where would we be without bike helmets, baggies, toothbrushes, and pacemakers? But a century into our love affair with plastic, we’re starting to realize it’s not such a healthy relationship. Plastics draw on dwindling fossil fuels, leach harmful chemicals, litter landscapes, and destroy marine life. As journalist Susan Freinkel points out in this engaging and eye-opening book, we’re nearing a crisis point. We’ve produced as much plastic in the past decade as we did in the entire twentieth century. We’re drowning in the stuff, and we need to start making some hard choices. 

Freinkel gives us the tools we need with a blend of lively anecdotes and analysis. She combs through scientific studies and economic data, reporting from China and across the United States to assess the real impact of plastic on our lives. She tells her story through eight familiar plastic objects: comb, chair, Frisbee, IV bag, disposable lighter, grocery bag, soda bottle, and credit card. Her conclusion: we cannot stay on our plastic-paved path. And we don’t have to. Plastic points the way toward a new creative partnership with the material we love to hate but can’t seem to live without.


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it sucked

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Amazingly well-written and, even more amazingly, not _completely_ depressing though Freinkel does not shy away from the magnitude of the implications of our troubling relationship with and dependence on plastic, which now saturates the planet a brief century after its invention. I learned a lot from this book & appreciated her 8 familiar objects exigesis very much; she wields each item usefully in order to produce some in-depth and trenchant social criticism. A much more sophisticated approach to the topic than e.g. Mary Roach would have taken. I find I even want to read The American Chestnut now even though that topic isn't nearly as interesting to me as plastic!  

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About the author (2011)

SUSAN FREINKEL has written for the New York Times, Discover, Smithsonian, and Health, among other publications. She is the author of The American Chestnut, which Mary Roach called “a perfect book” and Richard Preston described as “a beautifully written account” filled with “top-notch” writing and reporting.

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