Title: Kids Fight Plastic
Author: Martin Dorey
Illustrator: Tim Wesson
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Children’s non-fiction, Environmentalism
Book format: Paperback
Description: Have you got 2 minutes?
2 minutes is all the time it takes to become a superhero.
We need superheroes to fight plastic and help save our oceans.
Read the book and find out how you can become a #2minutesuperhero.
*Free copy provided by publisher for review…
Review: I’m not really sure how to feel after reading this book, it’s definitely a really good book at helping kids to understand how bad plastic is for our environment today and how to stop using so much, but a lot of the missions and advice in the book are not things that everyone can do and some will be difficult, especially for the parents of kids from poorer backgrounds, which might make both the parents and the kids in turn feel bad.
The book is all about fighting the use of plastic, and is filled with thick matt pages, which are all colourful and contain both pictures and text. The cover has a matt finish also and there’s even a note on the copyright page about the whole book being recyclable and made from non-plastic finishes! At the start of the book there’s a really good introduction all about how bad plastic is for our environment, the different types and which can be reclycled and explains to children how it can get into the oceans in lots of unexpected ways. This was interesting as I didn’t know exactly how it ends up in the oceans. It was also interesting to read how the author of the book began a movement of cleaning up a beach for 2 minutes which spread across the globe via social media.
After the introduction, the book is arranged into missions (chapters), each mission focuses on a different area of life, such as the bathroom, kitchen, clothing, etc. where kids (and adults) can make a real difference to the environment by refusing to use plastic, cleaning it up, and lots of other ways in which to help stop plastic ending up in the oceans and poluting our environment. The message about using less plastic is a very good one, it’s an environmental message I’ve always tried to share for years. I think most people can agree that plastic use has gotten out of hand and especially when it ends up in the ocean, its use is excessive and we need to find ways to make our world less polluted with plastic. So this book and the idea of it is a really good one and one I do support.
The missions all have an explanation behind why or how something is bad and what you can do in 2 minutes to improve things. There are various 2 minute things/challenges you can do within each mission (chapter) and each has a certain amount of points which if you’ve completed you can add at the end to see how big of a 2minutesuperhero you are. I like this aspect, especially when you discover at the end of the book that anyone scoring more than 0 gets praise for doing their bit (although more praise the better your score is of course). This makes the book not only fun but gives kids a real incentive to do something good for the environment.
However, for all the good the book does, I can’t help but notice something about some of the missions and it doesn’t sit so well with me.
For all the good the missions do in educating and giving kids ideas on how to say no to plastic in their lives (and of course I agree with all the reasons of why and want everyone to do their best to reduce their dependency on plastic) but, a lot of the advice given is for things that just aren’t possible for a lot of children, or rather, possible only if you have a decent income level as a family, and some of the behaviour the book encourages in children would not sit well with me or I think anyone who is a parent:
There are lots of things listed and I won’t detail them all here, but for example, kids are asked to try solid shampoo so they ditch the plastic shampoo bottles (this in theory is a good idea, again one I’d love to try out, but at the current time it’s still pretty hard to find a shop that stocks it everywhere and still more expensive than some of the cheapest bottled ones you can find – and not all parents will agree to the added cost or can afford it).
There are mentions of heading to markets or shops that are plastic-free where you can refill bottles of washing up liquid, flour, etc. which unfortunately I have never come across in the areas where I live, and only had a more expensive experience of them in central London.
There’s also mention of making things like paper table cloths or alternatives to cling film wrap which might be fun to make (and I’d love to try making the the wax wrap for myself!) but these also require families to purchase additional ingredients like the wax which not all families will be inclined to bother doing if you can’t buy them locally. And there’s suggestions of heading to a hobby store to a collect a roll paper to use as a paper table cloth which is definitely not that cheap for one use at a party – especially as there are paper alternatives available that are more widely available, easier to source and are far cheaper!
The illustrations in the book are very fun. Each mission has a background colour to it and there are fun images on every page. I do like the way that objects have been given faces and the way that the things that can be flushed down the toilet even have faces! Yes there’s a section on the toilet and how to make it a more plastic-free environment which can only be a good thing thinking about the horror stories of what people end up flushing down there! The illustrations just make the whole book feel more fun and I really felt like constantly reading through this book with the overall fun feel it has to each page.
As I said before, there are so many good points in the book and I really do like the message of saying no to plastic. But I do worry about how simple the author thinks things will be for kids to change as, despite their good intentions and understanding, many parents will not be able to accommodate the changes their kids might want. Re-using old plastic pots in gardening is an excellent idea as are a lot of others, but this book also tells kids to pester their parents, to be a real nuisance to them in the supermarket so parents buy plastic-free foods. While I still understand the sentiment behind trying to get your parents to go plastic-free, this behaviour of pestering is encouraged, rather than the more snesible approch of simply talking to parents. Having grown up and lived on the poverty line for a lot of my childhood I can say that the cheapest food available didn’t always come plastic-free and sometimes it was necessary to buy the pastic covered items instead of the plastic-free ones, desite not wanting to harm the planet. The alternatives that had no packaging were far more expensive and often out of my family’s price range.
While the book does a good job of encouraging to go plastic free, I do think it could also do more to encourage kids to re-use plastic things and show them how to re-use the plastic for making new toys and things rather than just talking about what to do when buying toys. Instead the book can make kids feel bad about wanting a toy that’s wrapped in plastic (especially as they might really want the toy and play with it a long time). I also dislike the fact the author specifically criticisese a certain chocolate egg brand for it’s plastic use and tells kids to simply avoid eating them altogether, offering no alternatives on how to use the plastic container instead. You only have to look online these days to see the hundreds of uses that people have for these including keeping condiments for travel, and even making minion toys out of them! (I even made xmas tree decorations out of them as a child hiding little sweets inside!). My point is that there are so many ideas of how to re-use or upcycle the pastic that already exists which could have been included rather than simply telling kids to not buy what could be their favourite chocolate.
I don’t want to make this a too critical review, this book really does have such a good environmental message which I support and the illustrations really do add to this making it feel brilliant. I love the fact this book actualy makes you feel you can make a real difference, even encouranging kids to contact important people (like their MP) to do something! I think in the longer term the advice offered can and will be adopted by more and more people, but at this point in time, when so many people struggle finiancially and there is still a lot of plastic being used out there, perhaps the message shouldn’t just be about being plastic-free, but also how to really re-use it so we don’t throw away anymore of what already exists and instead find a good use for it too. I really think this book could have included more examples of what to to if you couldn’t go completely plastic-free, giving those kids whose parents can’t do everything a chance to feel they are doing something great too!
What do you think of this book? How are you fighting against plastic, if you are? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂