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Quitting Plastic by Clara Williams Roldan and Louise Williams


Mother and daughter duo Clara Williams Roldan and Louise Williams team up to help us quit plastic. Both have a legacy of walking the talk through their work in waste recovery.


Louise Williams is an award-winning journalist and writer. She has served on waste recovery reference groups in her hometown, Sydney’s Northern beaches, where she also co-founded the Baringa Bush Community Garden. The gardens aim to benefit the community through education about permaculture, low water gardening and a no-pesticide approach to growing healthy food.


Daughter Clara has taken the mantle from her talented mother. She is a policy and legislative advisor to the NSW parliament, a role which has helped confirm her belief that small change can be widely beneficial.


As a side note, an African proverb recently shared with me profoundly underscores that belief. Paraphrasing, the proverb says that anyone who doubts the ability of something small to have a huge impact has not spent the night with a mosquito.

But it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the scale of the problem. Faced with a barrage of information about climate change, the demise of insect populations worldwide and the threat of plastic to our well-being and marine environments, it would be easy to feel defeated. Recent education about the life of plastic gave me pause for thought. I began to look at each and every bit of plastic in my household with despair. The assault of plastic on the food chain depressed me and invigorated a desire to grow more food to offset my contribution to the landfill.


Believe me, avoiding plastic is difficult. Taking a shopping bag is one thing; but just take a look at all the soft plastic in your shopping basket - it is nigh on impossible to avoid. In desperation, I looked to this little book for help.


I love the heading for the first chapter; Breaking up with plastic. It reinforces the sad truth that almost every piece of plastic ever made still exists. Clara’s own journey towards reducing plastic waste resulted in many failures – the spilled coffee from make-shift cups; the prevailing smell of vinegar from home-made hair conditioner.

Adding up her own contribution to the landfill from her coffee addiction alone, Clara reasonably estimated it to be just shy of 6000 coffee cups with lids. We could all curl up in defeat at personal sums such as this. But the chapter ends on a high with numerous inspiring stories from people who have been encouraged to break up with plastic; and how this has positively impacted their lives. I especially like the list of 10 things you can do today at the end of that chapter.


This wonderful wee book is sure to inspire and educate you. It’s full of tips, hints and recipes to help you succeed. I love it.


If only I could find a way to reduce all the waste from establishing a garden to avoid buying food packaged in plastic…


Reviewer: Peta Stavelli

Allen and Unwin $22.99

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