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Plastic: A Toxic Love Story

Susan Freinkel

Plastic built the modern world. Where would we be without bike helmets, toothbrushes, babies bottles and pacemakers? But a century into our love affair with plastic, we’re starting to realise 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, the United States and Australia to assess the real impact of plastic on our lives.

Plastic: A Toxic Love Story is told through eight familiar plastic objects: comb, chair, Frisbee, IV drip bag, disposable lighter, grocery bag, soft-drink bottle and credit card. Freinkel’s 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.

Watch the book trailer.

Listen to the interview with ABC Radio National’s Fran Kelly.

Read an interview with Susan in The Atlantic.

About the Author

Susan Freinkel is the author of American Chestnut. She has written about science, health and the environment for a variety of national publications including: Discover, Smithsonian, Reader’s Digest and the New York Times.

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Text publication date:
2 May 2011
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Praise for Susan Freinkel

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.

Plastic is filled with facts but told with such flair that the science never erects a barrier to a delightful read. This is testament to Freinkel’s willingness to use her research not as a vehicle to impress but as a means to share thought-provoking details. PICK OF THE WEEK.

How did we come to be in a world of plastic? It’s a fine premise for a fascinating


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