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Publisher's Summary

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 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'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. Plastic points the way toward a new creative partnership with the material we love to hate but can't seem to live without.
©2011 Susan Freinkel (P)2011 Dreamscape Media, LLC
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Danya on 12-30-12

Immensely entertaining and informative

Never before have I so thoroughly enjoyed reading about materials science, manufacturing, and ecological issues!

This book is packed with information about the development and impact of plastics within the past few decades, drawing from research articles, interviews, and site visits. The facts and views presented are sufficiently technical to ensure one's trust in the objectivity of the topics, as well as maintain the interest of an engineer or enthusiastic hobbyist; still, in no way did I find the writing to be difficult for any layperson to understand. As a mechanical engineer myself, I found I still learned a great deal about different kinds of plastics and their post-consumer roles.

But perhaps more importantly, I found the author's writing to be delightful. Susan playfully weaves a quirky narrative about her journey to dissect the plastics world, enlivening the technical topics. The narrator also speaks so comfortably and easily that I would have thought that she wrote the text herself, truly capturing the author's fun spirit.

If you are an engineer, designer, or some other professional in the consumer goods industry, read this. If you are interested in environmental debates, read this. If you are simply interested to learn how, in only a few decades, we came to live in a plastics-filled world, read this.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful


By Joshua Kim on 06-10-12

A Biography of Plastic

A Challenge: Write down every object that you use in one day that is all or part plastic. Also write down a list of the objects that you use that day that contain no plastics. Maybe even share your list with all of us.

Plastic dominates our life to such a degree that we hardly notice it anymore. Our post-industrial information economy runs on plastics made from petroleum products. And what is amazing is that our plastic economy is a fairly recent development. You are related to people who grew up in a non-plastic economy.
Plastic: A Toxic Love Story covers the history, science, economics, and politics of plastic.

My brain works best if I can try to understand the world through a narrow frame, the big picture through a single object. Freinkel's biography of plastic makes for a good story, and she tells it with the right balance of personal antidote, storytelling, and reporting.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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