Paper or plastic?
Rock or hard place?
In a country where about half our solid waste comes from packaging—yep, that's you in the mirror—we know that accepting either paper or plastic at the supermarket is a choice against nature. But were you aware that even canvas totes, usually made from industrially farmed (a.k.a. pesticide-ridden) cotton, also give Mama Earth a slap?
Daniel Imhoff does. And he's written a book about it. In fact, in Paper or Plastic, a fascinating look at the perils of packaging, he's got the backstory on pretty much every challenge we face: aluminum cans, Styrofoam peanuts, wooden pallets, milk cartons, bubble wrap, the whole shebang.
Pros and cons, origins and destinations, case stories and potential solutions: Whatever you thought you knew, Imhoff blows the lid right off it—the recyclable lid, naturally.
Plus, great visuals. Paper or Plastic's designer/photographer Robert Carra lays all the technical stuff out clearly and simply, with some photographs that are gut-punching—Philippine boys climbing a mountain of plastic water bottles, for instance.
But never fear: For all the tough talk, there are plenty of positive case stories and hopeful ideas for the future.
Some immediately implementable action, courtesty of Paper or Plastic:
1. Carry a mug. Paper cups ain't cool, people. Keep the trees alive.
2. Carry your own water bottle. Designer water is shipped from other states and countries and packaged in plastic. Yikes.
3. Don't wrap gifts for pets. 60% of people do it. But, you know, stop.
And buy the book, of course. It's printed on recycled paper.