books waste

Book review: No More Plastic, by Martin Dorey

No More Plastic, or No. More. Plastic. to be precise, is a book of the moment. It’s a topic people are interested in right now, and the book is a quick read. I’ve seen it by the tills in bookshops recently, positioned for impulse buying. And why not? It’s January and people are making new year’s resolutions. Perhaps it’s a good time to do something about the plastic habit.

Martin Dorey is the man behind #2minutebeachclean, which you may have come across on social media. His idea is to take the gigantic global problem of plastic pollution, and break it down into lots of short actions that take 2 minutes. Have a go at them one at a time, and before you know it you’ll have eaten the proverbial elephant.

Actions here include going through your weekly shop for any plastic packaging that can’t be recycled, and choosing not to buy that product again. You are invited to do a two minute litter pick, or download the Refill app.  I like the author’s simple common sense approach: “Go to your kitchen drawer. Take out a fork. Put it in your work bag. Use it.”

Not everything would take 2 minutes. I like the ‘sociable guerrilla bagging’ idea behind Morsbags, where people make reusable bags out of scrap fabric and give them away. But it’s not a two minute job. Neither is it quite as simple as the book implies to replace certain plastic products. In my experience it can take considerable research and some trial and error to find alternatives.

The book doesn’t get beyond personal actions. There’s little sense of the global perspective, or the role of manufacturers or of government. Like Will McCallum’s book, it’s entirely about ocean plastic. But that’s fine. It’s subtitled ‘what you can do to make a difference’ and it’s written by a beach cleaning activist. It has a page early on with just one sentence, warning readers that “this book is not about politics, economics or advertising.”

What the book is good at is encouraging us ordinary folks to do something about plastic. It’s inspiring, cajoling, occasionally angry, and written in a refreshingly straightforward style. Dorey has no truck with the idea that because we can only do a little, we’re somehow off the hook.  “Every piece of single-use plastic you refuse is a piece that won’t end up in the ocean. Every letter you write gets noticed. Every protest you make gets heard somewhere. All those actions add up. That’s why I know we can change the world, 2 minutes at a time.”

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