Beth Terry confesses that she’s shy. An accountant in the Oakland, California, area, this sprite of a woman is the unlikely David to the Goliath of plastic over-use. In 2007, though, after seeing a disturbing photograph, Terry had the light-bulb moment that made her want to try living a plastic-free life. She documented her experiences and experiments in a blog, now known as My Plastic-Free Life, and has written a book called Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too.
In our fair town, plastic bags were banned as of November 1, and our local food co-op brought Beth Terry to town to share her expertise. I knew I’d be out mushroom hunting earlier in the afternoon (more about that tomorrow) and didn’t know if I’d get back in time, so I downloaded her book and started reading it in advance of her visit. Hubby and I were already working to reduce our plastic waste, but My Plastic-Free Life has given me even more ideas.
For example, our co-op allows us to bring our own containers and buy items in bulk. This has allowed me to reduce my usage of plastic containers for automatic dishwashing detergent, laundry soap, protein powder, and more. However, I am a soda junkie (I’m not kidding, I’ve tried numerous times to quit), so what can I do? As a result of reading Terry’s book, I’ve learned that I can make my own. With some experience making kombucha under my belt, I feel comfortable with trying the fermentation method of soda, which creates the lowest environmental footprint.
Still, despite my good intentions, I’ve become painfully aware of the many ways that plastic finds its way into our lives. My Thanksgiving shop was an eye opener! Thankfully, I redeemed myself somewhat later in the day when I made my own toilet bowl cleaner and all-purpose cleaner, using re-usable containers.
Terry stresses that she doesn’t try to tell anyone what to do, and she doesn’t attempt to “guilt trip” people into living the way she does (she brought a two-pound bag of plastic to the presentation, which represented ALL of her plastic waste for 2011). She wants to demonstrate what’s possible over time, and suggests that we start with one or two small changes and go from there. She didn’t go cold turkey and doesn’t ask that we do, either. Collectively, if we all do SOMETHING, we will make a big difference.
Terry’s book is matter-of-fact and packed with resources for plastic-free products you may not realize are available. She also shares stories of some of her heroes. If you’re thinking about reducing your environmental impact or the toxic load in your home, this book is for you!