Four Questions with Beth Terry

by Wendy Gabriel

Since waking up to her own plastic consumption and impact on the planet two years ago, Beth TerryBeth Terry has been working to inspire others to live mindfully with less plastic via her blog, Fake Plastic Fish on which she tallies her own weekly plastic waste and details the steps she’s taken to find healthy reusable alternatives to plastic, inviting any and all to come along for the journey.

What put you on your current path toward a plastic-free existence?

One photo: the carcass of a dead albatross chick out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that was filled with tiny plastic pieces, like bottle caps, lighters, even a toothbrush… the remnants of our daily lives. I realized that my own lifestyle could be contributing to the pain of creatures thousands of miles away, creatures I’d never even heard of before seeing that photo.

What has been your biggest obstacle in your quest to become free of plastic?

My kitties! I’ve switched to preparing homemade food for them. I purchase the chicken in my own stainless steel container that I bring to the butcher shop and add baked yams, butter, and a supplement powder just for cats. The supplement comes in a plastic bottle, but it lasts several months. The biggest issue has been cat litter. The one biodegradable litter that comes in a paper bag is not attractive to them. They’d rather use the floor. So we continue to buy corn-based litter that comes in a plastic bag.

I love your list of ‘Plastic free changes to date’ on your website! What are one or two changes that people could start with on their journey to being completely plastic free?

I always hesitate to recommend anything as a simple step because what is easy for me might not be so for someone else. So, here are my Top 3 Steps for beginning a less plastic lifestyle:

1. Read the article Plastic Ocean to see for yourself why plastic is a problem. This is the article that has changed me and many others forever.
2.  Collect your own plastic waste for one week, without judgment or guilt. At the end of the week, examine it as a scientist would. What does it say about your lifestyle? What kinds of things would be easiest to give up or replace? Plastic bags? Plastic bottles?
3.  Learn a new mantra: Bring Your Own. Start with the easiest thing to remember. Is it a reusable water bottle? Reusable travel mug? Reusable grocery bags? Pick one thing that you will bring with you each time you go out and practice bringing it every time. Once that becomes a habit, add another reusable item. Soon, you’ll be like me with reusable bottle, bags, container, utensils, and even glass drinking straw. But don’t try to do it all at once… unless going whole hog is your thing!

I highly recommend your website for information and inspiration on becoming plastic free. Can you name other sources of information?

Absolutely! First, of course, is the article I mentioned above, Plastic Ocean.

A new feature-length movie I highly recommend is Addicted to Plastic, which is now available for purchase on DVD.

A shorter film with great information on plastic in the oceans is Synthetic Sea from the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. The whole AMRF site is a great source of information on this issue.

For a list of other bloggers attempting to live with less plastic as well as articles and other resources, please check out the right sidebar of Fake Plastic Fish, which is constantly updated with relevant links.

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