Have you ever written a letter to the editor? It’s something each of us could do, and with the Internet, it’s easier than ever. So why was last month the first time I ever tried it? Oh sure, I leave comments on blogs and online newspaper web sites, but I had never sent a letter to be published in print until the article “An Ocean of Plastic” appeared in the October 29, 2009 issue of Rolling Stone Magazine, of all places.
Now, we’re not talking about a couple of small paragraphs. Kitt Doucette’s article about Captain Charles Moore, the North Pacific Gyre, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and the problems of plastic pollution is a 4-page spread in the center of the magazine, right after Madonna. I wish I could link to it so you can read it for yourself. Unfortunately, Rolling Stone doesn’t publish all its articles online. At this point, the only way to read it is to buy a back issue.
So anyway, it’s a great article. But one sentence on the third page caught my attention:
When was the last time you spent an entire day without using a piece of disposable plastic?
I jumped on it. I had to. I read so many articles about the environmental problems in the world that rarely contain any hopeful information about what we as individuals can do about them. I fear that readers end up depressed, hopeless, and unmotivated to take action. What’s the use of that? Normally, I would have found the magazine’s web site and left a comment. But because this article was not online, I had to do what I’d never done before… write an actual letter to the actual editor. Fortunately the editor had an email address or it might not have happened.
So, here’s a shortened version of my letter, which was published in the current (11-26-2009) issue of Rolling Stone. Click on the image to see the full page as a PDF.
And here is the original letter that I sent:
from Beth Terry
date Mon, Oct 19, 2009 at 5:05 AM
subject An Ocean of Plastic
In his article, “An Ocean of Plastic,” Kitt Doucette asks, “When was the last time you spent an entire day without using a piece of disposable plastic?” My answer: yesterday. And the day before that. And the one before that. It’s not impossible to get off the plastic-ridden consumer treadmill of mass consumption, but it does take dedication. I’ve been blogging ways to live with less plastic at Fake Plastic Fish (http://www.fakeplasticfish. com) for over two years in response to learning about the plastic in the ocean.
It’s great to bring awareness to the problem of plastic pollution, but let’s give readers some solutions as well. A half a century ago, people lived well with much less plastic. We can do it again.
I’m very pleased that the editor chose to include my letter. But I wish the reference to Fake Plastic Fish had been included to provide RS readers some solutions and demonstrate that it is possible to live with very little disposable plastic. So far the weight of my plastic waste for 2009 is under 3 pounds. Think I can keep it there through the end of the year?