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It would be easy for a casually concerned consumer to read the title of this book, think of the reusable shopping bags hanging by the door, and feel smug. In 168 pages, many of which include shocking full color photos, Dan Imhoff lays out the clear and compelling case that we have a long, long way to go before we can even begin to consider our global packaging waste problem solved. Appropriately published by Sierra Club Books, this 2005 text remains highly relevant for people who wish to really understand the scope and scale of the damage our current packaging habits are wreaking upon our planet. This book serves as an excellent resource for those who wish to really delve into the complex changes that will be necessary to facilitate environmental healing.
As an educator, it strikes me that this would be a wonderful book for classroom use at the high school and college levels. The author does a brilliant job of back-loading a copious amount of research into hefty appendices and end notes; as a result, the text itself tells an important story without becoming dry, and is as easy to read as it is informative.
In the first section, “The Packaging Landscape,” the reader is guided through an explanation of the sobering scope and scale of waste created by our tacit obsession with packaging (an average of 300 pounds of waste per person per year!). The second section, “The Search for Solutions,” walks us through an engaging set of case studies which range from high tech electronics companies to frozen confections. Promising research and development initiatives are explored, as are foreign legislative policies aimed at mitigating our global packaging waste crisis (not surprisingly, the United States lags woefully behind global leaders in this arena). The third section, “A Future Beyond the Box,” provides the reader with guidelines for distinguishing between bad wraps and better packaging. We are also provided with thirteen very clear, simply explained steps each of us can take to do our part to help solve this often overlooked global crisis.
Paper Or Plastic: Searching For Solutions To An Overpackaged World is as well written as it is important. Each of us needs to read this book.