Plastic: A Toxic Love Story Audio CD – Audiobook, 18 Apr 2011
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"It turns out that plastic is not only an ongoing environmental peril, but a compulsively interesting story. This well-reported and lively history helps us see the last decades in a different light. Buy it (with cash)."
--Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth, founder 350.org
--Annie Leonard, author of The Story of Stuff"In a world glutted and fouled with fake plastic crap we never missed during nearly our entire history, Susan Freinkel's timely book on the subject is the real thing. No animals or children were harmed by its writing, I'm sure--but thanks to her diligence, a whole lot of them just might be saved."
--Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us
"Plastic is everywhere, and Susan Freinkel explains why. Plastic: A Toxic Love Story is gracefully written and deeply informative."
--Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe
--David de Rothschild, Leader of the Plastiki Expedition "Who'd have thought that combs, Frisbees and lighters could have such secret histories and such disturbing futures? Susan Freinkel's page-turner brings together history, science and culture to help us understand the plastic world that we have wrought, and has become part of us. Although we should all worry that plastics will persist for centuries, Plastic deserves to endure for years to come."
--Raj Patel, author of The Value of Nothing"Susan Freinkel's book exponentially increased my desirous love and my hate for plastic. What a great read--rigorous, smart, inspiring, and as seductive as plastic itself."
--Karim Rashid, Designer"What is plastic, really? Where does it come from? How did my life become so permeated by synthetics without my even trying?" Surrounded by plastic and depressed by the political, environmental, and medical consequences of our dependence on it, Freinkel (The American Chestnut) chronicles our history with plastic, "from enraptured embrace to deep disenchantment," through eight household items including the comb, credit card, and soda bottle (celluloid, one of the first synthetics, transformed the comb from a luxury item to an affordable commodity and was once heralded for relieving the pressure on elephants and tortoises for their ivory and shells). She takes readers to factories in China, where women toil 60-hour weeks for $175 a month to make Frisbees; to preemie wards, where the lifesaving vinyl tubes that deliver food and oxygen to premature babies may cause altered thyroid function, allergies, and liver problems later in life. Freinkel's smart, well-written analysis of this love-hate relationship is likely to make plastic lovers take pause, plastic haters reluctantly realize its value, and all of us understand the importance of individual action, political will, and technological innovation in weaning us off our addiction to synthetics. (Apr.)
"An informative treatise on our complicated and dependent relationship with plastic...Freinkel presents a balanced, well-researched investigation into a controversial and versatile human creation." --Kirkus"Susan Freinkel had me from the minute I finished reading about her attempt to try to live without plastic for a week...Ms. Freinkel has penned a fascinating--and at times extremely disturbing--book about material that has literally invaded and, as her research reveals, infected every aspect of modern life."--New York Journal of Books"I have rarely, if ever, come across a book that I would describe as "perfect." However, after finishing Plastic, I was convinced that the appellation might well be accurate, not only for American Chestnut, but possibly for Plastic as well." --James Arnett, The Brooklyn Rail
"Susan Freinkel's book, "Plastic: A Toxic Love Story" is evenhanded, thorough, riveting and often lyrical." --Cleveland Plain Dealer"Evenhanded investigation."--Salon"It's impossible to read her book without developing an appreciation for and a concern about the role that plastic plays in our lives."--The Columbus Dispatch"Exhaustively researched and extremely readable, this eye-opening book has the potential, even, to influence a cultural change." --Kelly Roark, NewCity Lit"Susan Freinkel's book is an even-handed, thorough, riveting and often lyrical biography of plastics, also full of eccentric human players"--Star Tribune --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside FlapIt turns out that plastic is not only an ongoing environmental peril, but a compulsively interesting story. Buy it (with cash). Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth, founder of 350.org Susan Freinkel s book exponentially increased my desirous love and my hate for plastic. What a great read rigorous, smart, inspiring, and as seductive as plastic itself. Karim Rashid, DesignerPlastic built the modern world. Where would we be without pacemakers, polyester, computers, cell phones, sneakers, or chewing gum? (Plastic in gum? Yes!) But a century into our love affair with plastic, the romance is starting to fray. Plastics draw on dwindling fossil fuels, leach harmful chemicals, litter landscapes, and destroy marine life. And yet each year we use and consume more; we ve produced as much plastic in the past decade as we did in the entire twentieth century. We re trapped in an unhealthy dependence a toxic relationship. In this engaging and eye-opening book, journalist Susan Freinkel shows that we have reached a crisis point. She treks through history, science, and the global economy to assess the real impact of plastic on our lives. Freinkel tells her story through eight familiar plastic objects: comb, chair, Frisbee, IV bag, disposable lighter, grocery bag, soda bottle, and credit card. Each one illuminates a different facet of our synthetic world, and together they give us a new way of thinking about a substance that has become the defining medium and metaphor of our age. 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." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product description
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The author decided to spend a day without touching anything plastic. But she didn't make it too far. About 10 seconds, she estimates...since both the light switch and the toilet seat in the bathroom were made of plastic. So she changed the experiment into a list-making exercise and that day she wrote down 196 different plastic items that she touched. Of course, many of these items were non-durable items like plastic packaging. The next day she continued list-making with a similar tally of everything she touched that wasn't at least partially made of plastic. The non-plastic list only made it to 102 items.
This led to some reflection and a list of questions, which she attempts to answer in the book. Those questions include:
What is plastic?
Where does plastic come from?
How did we get so many plastic items in our lives without really trying?
What happens to plastics after we put them into a recycling bin?
Does plastic actually get recycled after it's picked up curbside?
How much of the plastic that the typical American discards is ending up in the ocean?
Should we stop using plastic shopping bags?
Is there a future for plastic in a sustainable world?
To explore the answers to these questions, the book is organized into separate chapters about eight common, everyday, relatively non-durable objects that are commonly made from plastic, including the comb, the stackable cafe chair, the Frisbee, the intravenous solution bag, the disposable lighter, the grocery bag, the soda pop bottle and the credit card.
Two of my favorite factoids in the book were:
In the 19th century plastics were actively promoted as a way to replace ivory from elephant tusks for use in billard balls and to replace hair comb materials that were coming from hawksbill turtle shells.
The rapid growth of plastics after World War II had a lot to do with their utility as a way to use the ever-increasing stream of petroleum refining by-products.
Overall it thought that the Pro's of this book were:
It's a good historical overview of plastic
The author acknowledges the paradoxes of the plastic industry
There is a good chapter explaining what the recycling numbers on plastic products indicate and where they came from
And there's an excellent notes section at the back of the book
And I thought the Con's of this book were:
No durable plastic items were examined
No full-scale solutions for the paradoxes of our huge reliance on non-durable plastic products were identified or examined
In a work that is both breathtakingly comprehensive and compellingly detailed, Freinkel constructs a succession of lenses with which to inspect this troubling but essential component of our reality today. "Plastic" clarified my instinctual aversion to this ubiquitous, petroleum-based, everlasting enigma. At the same time it revealed the mindbogglingly diverse forms that plastic assumes to enrich, support and improve our well-being. I've spent most of my adult life denigrating this material which lasts forever yet is perversely deployed for short-term, even disposable, purposes. But Freinkel's blend of deep research and personal narrative -- creative, colorful, apt, responsible and truthful -- left me with new respect and informed insight to the questions of production, use and waste. "Plastic: A Toxic Love Story" is required reading for anyone who cares about the world we live in today, and the one we will leave to our children: environmentally, economically, technologically.
Brava, Susan Freinkel, for telling this story that needed so much to be told -- and for making it such a shockingly good read.
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