The ability to avoid plastic is a class and an accessibility issue. Reducing plastic pollution can feel overwhelming, especially when companies don't take responsibility for the safety and life-cycle of their products. In these unprecedented times, helping children develop critical thinking skills relative to the short-term and long-term impacts plastics have on their health and the health of the environment is essential, and adults should use safe plastic alternatives for children whenever appropriate and possible.
There are many ways librarians can help families reduce their reliance on plastics and empower their communities to use and find plastic alternatives. Library programs focused on cultivating sustainable practices can be an excellent way to help parents find zero waste alternatives. Movie screenings, sewing reusable materials such as bags, and creating zero waste kits can be a great way to make what can sometimes be a frustrating or daunting issue fun. Crafting at the library can also be done with child-friendly and environmentally-friendly materials, which are often one and the same.
In recent months, more governmental action is being taken to combat plastic pollution, including the banning of certain single-use plastics in the European Union. Still, plastics surround us in our soil, our food, and the air we breathe. Microplastics are becoming an increasingly pervasive problem, where plastic rain is the new acid rain, and have now been found in human placenta. We often unwittingly release microplastics into our water by washing our clothing made of plastics. Many products such as mattresses, pillows, and other household items are made with plastics and other chemicals which are impossible to reuse.
The following books are meant to teach and empower children to make informed and healthy decisions about plastics. The style and aesthetics of these books vary, which will hopefully engage children of different ages and reading levels!
Kids vs. Plastic by Julie Beer (ages 10-12 years old) - This National Geographic Kids book is a fantastic resource for activities, information, and resources to help kids and their communities help reduce plastic in their lives and neighborhoods. The Kids vs. Plastic website is also a really amazing resource with more activities and information to get started.
Plasticus Maritimus: An Invasive Species by Ana Pêgo (ages 10-16 years old) - Marinebiologist Ana Pêgo has created a guide to explain the timeline of plastic pollution and how the accelerating production of plastic and plastic pollution is a major threat to our environmental and personal health, with activities and tons of resources for action
The Plastic Problem: 60 Small Ways to Reduce Waste and Help Save the Earth by Aubre Andrus (Ages 9-12 years old) - An excellent guide for children on how they can reduce plastic in their lives, including fun family activities to reduce waste and exposure to plastics, as well as developing critical thinking skills relative to consumerism and the consequences of personal and environmental health.
You Can Change the World by Lucy Bell (Ages 8-12 years old) - This super fun and fabulously illustrated guide offers facts, tips, information, recipes, resources, DIY projects, how-to instructions, biographies of young environmental activists, and stories about how young people can live more socially and ecologically conscious lives.