The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

May 18, 2012

Compost this Book. But first, check out how cool it is!

I am so full of excitement right now I could burst.  I just received the first case of my new book:  Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too, and I feel like a proud mama right now.  A few nights ago, I had a dream that the book arrived and the pages were made out of plastic.  I couldn’t believe it.  So I called my editor and asked how that could have happened in a plastic-free book, and he said, “It’s not plastic; it’s nylon.”  And I was all, “What?  Didn’t you even read my book?  Nylon is plastic!”  And then I woke up and it wasn’t true.  Still, I have been wondering and worrying.  One commenter on Facebook wrote, “I’m assuming your publisher checked ‘no’ on the plastic shrinkwrap option on the book’s print bid…” and that started me fretting all over again.  What if there was some accident or oversight and the books were sent shrink-wrapped in plastic?  What a nightmare that would be.

So, when I got home yesterday and found that my case of books had arrived, I opened it with trembling hands.  Today, I re-enacted that moment and took a ton of pictures so you can experience it with me.  I did it because 1) I’m giddy with excitement but also, and more importantly 2) I’m all about transparency. If I expect companies to reveal all the materials used in their products, I have to do the same, right?

Okay, so the box itself had plastic tape and a plastic packing slip pouch. I’ll see if I can get them to change this. At the very least, I hope I can get them to skip the packing slip. I don’t need it since they already emailed me an invoice.

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

Opening the flaps, I see a protective piece of cardboard. No plastic so far…

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

Under the cardboard, bare books. No shrink wrap! Whew.

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

Under each book, a thin sheet of paper and cardboard dividers between the books.

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

As I’ve mentioned before, the book itself was manufactured without plastic materials. But did I tell you how cool they made the cover? See the raised writing that makes the plastic label look like real Dymo tape?

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

The design is pressed into the book jacket. It’s really not plastic.

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

So, what does a plastic-free book look like under the jacket?  The cover is bare, uncoated, unprinted cardboard. The spine is bare.  The glue is non-plastic.

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

The pages are sewn together with cotton thread.  Seriously, you could compost this book at the end of its life.

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

So now, let’s take a little tour through the book itself.  Each chapter is full of color photos and personal stories.

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

There are green tip boxes throughout the book, and many of the tips were contributed by readers of this blog.  If I emailed you about using your tip in the book, it’s in there.  But you’ll have to find it.  :-)

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

There is a ton of practical advice, organized in a way that is much easier to navigate than the five-years worth of posts on this blog.

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

And new information, such as the pros and cons of bio-plastic, how to tell the legit ones from the scams, and what certifications to look for.

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

Or how about the benefits and drawbacks of recycling and whether it really does save energy or not.  Come with me as I tour a recycling facility and show you what it’s like inside.

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

Each chapter contains one or more profiles of plastic-free heroes — people who inspire me to go beyond personal actions to create change on a wider scale.  A few of the people you may know or recognize.  But I’m betting there are some that will surprise you.

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

Knowing that I don’t have all the answers and that what is available to you will vary depending on where you live, I have included lists of Questions to Ask at the end of many chapters to help you figure out the best option when confronted with a plastic dilemma.  These are the questions I ask myself.

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

Some chapters contain worksheets for tracking your changes.  Keep in mind that the main advice is:  Don’t try to do this all at once!

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

But like I said, the book is not just all resources and information and worksheets.  There are a lot of personal stories, including some that are somewhat embarrassing.  Yep, I’m all about the full disclosure.

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

Every chapter ends with an Action Item Checklist that summarizes all the steps discussed in the chapter, from beginning personal changes to bigger, citizen actions.

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

And at the back are pages and pages of notes to back up the statements I make.

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

Look!  It’s me on a book cover.  Seriously, I am sitting here pinching myself right now.

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too

The book is available everywhere books are sold.  (Online, as well as brick and mortar stores.) And I’m personally selling signed copies to benefit the Plastic Pollution Coalition or Women’s Voices for the Earth. Here is how to place an order.


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I think what you’ve done and are continuing to do is great. You’re getting the important message of taking care of this planet, beloved to some of us, to many out there. I’ve been mindful of not getting plastic bags and have been using reusable bags for the last 6 years. In the beginning, when I’d bring in my own bags, even if I’d occasionally squirm because of the strange looks I’d get, I always reassured myself I was doing the responsible thing. The county I live in has now passed a no-plastic-bag regulation on grocery stores starting Jan 2013… Read more »


I feel stupid asking this, but how were you able to specify the cardboard cover? Was the publisher / printer simply willing to work with you?

Beth Terry

Hi, Michael. Not a stupid question at all. The whole thing was actually my publisher’s idea. From the moment Skyhorse Publishing accepted my proposal, they decided they would figure out a way to make the book without plastic. I am very fortunate they wanted to publish my book because other publishers might not have had the same vision.


Thank You!


Hi! My sister and I just ordered your book and can’t wait for it to come! Quick question that has be gnawing at me: How does the product come packaged that is put in a bulk bin? Have you answered this question before? Just curious if it is a large plastic bag in a box that takes the product from the manufacturer to the store.

Beth Terry

Hi, JeanetteS. This is a topic I address in my book. Some things in bulk bins come in paper, some in big plastic bags, some in boxes with a plastic liner. It’s all different and depends on the product. But the main point is that it’s producing a lot less plastic waste than smaller sizes of the same products. There is one store called in.gredients, which I also mention in the book, that is opening in Texas that plans to get the packaging out of the entire supply chain. Hopefully this will be a model for other stores to follow.


Congratulations on your book! What a labor of love. I will be downloading the kindle version but I love the cover, looks great!


Hi! It is wonderful that there’s people like you who really want to fight for this! You really impress me! Me and my boyfriend have recently made a project about plastic. Our goal is to spread the knowledge about issues regarding plastic-consumption. We have a webpage in swedish where visitors can read facts about how the plastic affects our environment and our health. We also have some advices of how to use less plastic in an every-day life. I would really like to read your book! Do you have any idea of how much it would cost to send it… Read more »

Beth Terry

Hi, Josefin. Please email me directly beth at myplasticfreelife dot com to work out Swedish shipping. Congratulations on your website and efforts!


I just ordered my copy moments ago on B&N ( but only because I had a gift card… your local booksellers!!! Purchase books through ) Oh the contradiction of purchasing this fantastic book with a plastic gift card that cannot be reused.

The gift card was for $25 and I refused to let any of it go to waste. So the other book I purchased (used) was Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture.

Yipeee! Summer reading.


I’m excited about your book, but to be honest, I was surprised that you opted to have an actual book produced, given the resources it would consume. Even if there is no plastic, there is paper, and energy required to create the book. I would have thought it would simply be available as an e-book, or for purchase on a kindle. A direct quote from your plastic-free guide on this blog regarding trash disposal: “Not even paper is an option for us, since paper requires trees and energy to make.”

Beth Terry

Hi Christine. I totally appreciate this point, but let me tell you my reasoning. First, not everyone has an e-reader, and I don’t want to encourage people to buy a plastic device if they don’t already have one. Not everyone wants to read books electronically, and the purpose of my book is to reach as many people as possible with the message of plastic-free living. I would eliminate a ton of potential readers/future activists if I limited my information to people who want to read -books. And finally, this book will be available in major bookstores, so people who don’t… Read more »


Thanks, Beth. I appreciate your explanation, and understand the issues you had to weigh out when making the decision. You are right in that your message will have the opportunity to reach many people, including many new people who may have never seen your blog, and just see your book while browsing. I hope everyone who purchases the book in-store opts to forego a plastic bag! It would be cool to strike up a deal with major book chains to somehow ensure no plastic bags are given with the book, though I don’t know how that would work. Interesting about… Read more »


I’m reading the Kindle edition now, and I love it. Even though I’ve been reading your blog for five years, the organization of the book makes the information you’ve worked to gather much more accessible. The hardcover edition looks awesome and I have a little regret that I’m in a minimalist belongings phase of my life.

Beth Terry

Thanks for the great feedback. That was exactly my intention. Would you consider posting your comment on Amazon and giving 5 stars? I totally understand about not wanting to accumulate more things. Maybe you can request it from the library just to have a look at it.


I just posted an updated comment on Amazon (finished the book) with 5 stars. Good luck with sales and reviews!!! I’m back on the path of plastic reduction.

Beth Terry

Thank you! Thank you!


Such an exciting time for you! All the best to you, Beth! You are such an inspiration!

Debra Kapellakis



Congrats Beth! We are so excited for you!!


The dream! It’s telling you your future! That dream is laying it all out for you. Your next project is to be a MOVIE – and it will be called – IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE – IN PLASTIC I won’t go on with the plot details, since that is indicated by the nature of the dream…just remember the parts that are scariest and it will assure scared audiences too. Think of what the flick THE BLOB did for Steve McQueen’s career! If you think the book jacket blurb and picture are a thrill, how about your name on the… Read more »

Beth Terry

Wait, Clif. I already was in a movie. It’s called “Bag It,” and it’s awesome!

Jessy Mills

Yes I will :)

My Plastic-free Life

Jessy Mills, I’m not sure how to do that but maybe you can help me figure it out. Will you email me directly your shipping address? beth at myplasticfreelife dot com.

Jessy Mills

I don’t have paypal, but I could send you an email money transfer if you do online banking?

My Plastic-free Life

Michelle Cassar and Jessy Mills, for those outside the U.S., email me directly. I’ll find out the postage and create a special PayPal invoice for you.

News From A Broad

I’m so very excited for you Beth! You have really started a revolution, one I am proud to be apart of for many years to come!

Two Hands Project

Congratulations Beth, We can’t wait to read it! Any chance we could get a copy to Tokyo by May 30 to take on board the Tsunami Debris Expedition?
Two Hands Project

Beth Terry

Wow, Paul. Yes! Email me directly to discuss how we could make that happen. beth at myplasticfreelife dot com.

Jessy Mills

I’m in BC Canada

Michelle Cassar

No not everyone takes photos of their book. Because not everyone writes a book!!! Brilliant! I can’t wait. I’m gunna order a signed one, but I’m in Europe. Will PayPal give me the option to add more money to cover postage?


Wow, Beth. I’m excited for you. This looks MINT!!!!

Colleen Juett

I am half way through your book. I bought the kindle version, but now I wish I had the real paper version. Your book is so full of good websites, recipes and information/facts that I know I will want to reference it often (which is really hard to do on a kindle). Thank you for writing this book and making me even more aware of ways to eliminate plastic in my life.

Erika Gill

I’d love a signed copy, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to restrain myself from buying it before the signed one would get to me. Are you doing any signings in the future? Like possibly in LA?

Beth Terry

Hi, Erika. I don’t have a specific signing in L.A. lined up yet, but who knows what will be scheduled in the next few months. I will tell you that the book is not yet available in bookstores or online — just pre-orders at this point. So I’m betting that if you order it from me, you’ll get it sooner. :-) Of course, you can always download the e-book and have it immediately. But the e-book does not look nearly as cool.


Congratulations, Beth! This is absolutely wonderful!

Colette Domiano Carrabba

I have to say that I am really enjoying your book! I have the kindle version and love that I can go directly to many of the links you mention in the text.

Jessy Mills

I want a signed copy!! :P

Shanon Duncan

Yay Yay Yay! So wonderful Beth!!! Enjoy that marvelous feeling ???

Dana Blinder

Congrats to you, Beth! I hope to pick up a copy of it soon!

Bianca Warn

Awesome. I need this book! Well done!

Mark Peters


Lisa Dembouski

You so seriously rock.

Wholistic Pursuit

I’m so excited to read your book!!! I’ve really enjoyed your blog over the years, but it will be nice to have all the most important information organized in a book. Thank you!!!

Susie Stephen


A Gluten-Free Vegan Mom Who Knows

Congratulations! I am SO excited for you!

Katie Bouchillon

Congrats on your book! So happy for you. I’ll be looking for it at my local bookstore.


Of course I want to order a signed copy. I almost know the author!

Beth Terry

What do you mean “almost”? Okay, we’ve never met in person. But how many years have we known each other online now?


My library already has a copy, and I just put a hold on it, number 1 on the list, so I should get to read it in a few days. Yea!

Bibi Pey

Hi Beth, Greetings from Sydney, Australia. I have been following your blog for a while now and have recently downloaded and read your book. Thank you, thank you! You have taken my awareness to a whole new level! Believe it or not, I have a plastic alternative tip for you. I too have two cats and found that after a while, their plastic litter boxes would get permeated with the less than pleasant cat urine scent. To remedy this situation I bought a large food warming pan made of stainless steel and it works great! I recommend going this route… Read more »

Beth Terry

What a great idea! If/when our plastic litter boxes wear out, I’ll consider that option. And Bibi, it would be fantastic if you would leave a little review on Amazon to help encourage others to buy the book. Thanks!


Very cool!!! Your comment about getting a signed copy from you made me wonder: Is there such a thing as a plastic free pen?!

Beth Terry

I have to see what works best on this paper. I have a refillable fountain pen that I refill from a glass bottle of ink, but it might not work with the type of paper in this book. I could use a pencil, too, which is what I normally use on a day to day basis. Wow. I had not even thought about what I would use to sign it because I rarely have use for pens anymore.


you should make your own Chop and stamp your book. It will eliminate the need for a pen, and you can ‘sign’ your name easily. Kinda like the way Chinese does it in this video. I bet you can order one very easily on Etsy. And congrats!!

Steph of Super Skivvies

CONGRATULATIONS!!! I can not wait to read it!


Looks amazing~ Congrats!


Yippee! Thanks for sharing all this with us. I requested my library purchase a copy and I am first on the waiting list for it, but I am so excited that I imagine I’ll be getting a copy of my own anyway. Congratulations! It’s a book! :-)


BETH! It looks gorgeous, and I look forward to pawing my way through the pages and, ultimately, your journey (which we all know continues beyond the book cover itself). Keep pinching yourself and bouncing up and down with complete glee. Knowing you and what I see above, it’s a phenomenal job well done. Congratulations!