Book Review: Slow Death By Rubber Duck

plastic free

Last week, I mentioned reading Plastic Purge  by Michael SanClements. His book really delved into the history of plastics and gave some great advice for reducing plastics in our daily life. This week, I’ve been reading Slow Death by Rubber Duck, written by Rick Smith & Bruce Lourie. I am only half way through the book but again I am shocked at the amount of harmful chemicals we come in contact with daily and how they negatively affect our health and the environment.

An interesting exercise SanClements encouraged was to describe a normal day. This helps demonstrate the amount of chemicals in our environment in a very clear way. Here’s an example of my daily plastic life:

  • Wake up to plastic cell phone alarm clock, plugged into a plastic wall outlet.
  • Turn on plastic light switch plate in my bedroom.
  • Get into shower with plastic shower curtain and use shampoo and body wash from plastic bottles.
  • Eat cereal from a plastic lined bag.
  • Brush teeth with plastic tooth brush.
  • Turn on plastic computer and begin blogging while seated on my plastic foam filled chair.
  • Enjoy coffee in ceramic mug (yay!) made from coffee grounds from a metal container with a plastic lid.
  • Begin preparations for my freezer meals, including removing vegetables from their plastic bags and chopping them using my plastic handled knife.
  • Feed my dog Polly from her plastic lined food bag into her plastic food bowls.
  • Portion my freezer meals into plastic containers and store in my freezer next to many other plastic containers and bottles.
  • Take Polly for a walk; use plastic poo bags for when she goes.
  • Grab TexMex for dinner; enjoy chips and salsa in reusable plastic baskets. Drink a glass of water from a plastic cup.

so. much. plastic.

It’s frightening how much plastic we come into contact with daily.

The authors of Slow Death by Rubber Duck complete experiments on themselves, testing the levels of different chemicals in their blood and urine. They try to reduce their levels of these chemicals before the study and then spend two days completing regular daily tasks to a bit of an extreme level and send their samples to be tested. It’s wild to learn that they actually altered the amount of chemicals in their bodies, but also it’s encouraging. This means that if we are aware of the chemicals in plastics in our lives, we can try to reduce them and in effect, improve our health. In our current society, we really must motivate ourselves to make the change, because chemical companies are not considering our best interest or that of our environment.

Dealing with the chemical companies of today is a bit like dealing with the cigarette industry. It’s madness that chemicals are put on the market and basically considered harmless until proven otherwise. This is a huge problem, because plastics tend to slowly cause health problems. In the past, for example, water became contaminated, people drank it, and many became sick. There was a very evident cause of illness, and it was quickly made right. However, in today’s society, there is a silent killer that no one recognizes. We come in contact with nasty chemicals that aren’t visible, and eventually people get cancers and diseases and we have no idea why. I think there’s a connection and we should do something to make a change!

What are your thoughts on a plastic free lifestyle? Do you think plastics are something we should be concerned about in our society today?? What are some ways we can reduce plastics in our daily lives?

6 thoughts on “Book Review: Slow Death By Rubber Duck

  1. Live a Luddite lifestyle, off the grid. Shun TV, iPads, iPod, iAnything. Reduce your carbon footprint as much as possible, and return to a minimalist way that was much less ‘consumption’ based, and much simpler. Use glass containers, use cloth bags, ride a bike, grow you own food, use natural and home made products. I always think about the stuff my grand father used prior to the ‘oil based’ economy, and I seek those items and lifestyle products out; straight razor to shave, all metal watches and alarm clocks, hanging clothes to dry on a line outside, using a composter, having a large garden, and walking or cycling everywhere.

    1. This is so eloquently stated, thank you very much for you insight! We should all strive for a consumption-less lifestyle.

  2. Have you seen Plastic Paradise yet on Netflix? Awesome documentary!
    Right when I think I’ve avoided a good amount of plastic I read somewhere, it’s in your furniture, your pillows, clothes, shoes, mattress, EVERYWHERE. It’s makes me feel defeated at times, but I figure less plastic has to be better than what I was exposing myself to before. And you know what is a strange coincidence, is that I didn’t catch a single cold or flu over the winter, I normally always get at least one. It has to affect our immune system in some way.

    1. I haven’t seen Plastic Paradise, thanks for the recommendation! I will definitely check it out. And I totally agree about plastics. It’s a bit overwhelming to know that it infests our lives so much even if we try to avoid it. And yes I think it does affect our health! Not to mention the detrimental effects to the environment.

  3. I guess that I would agree with the premise except that life expectancy has increased steadily over the last 70 years. Plastic is ubiquitous, playing a role in almost every aspect of our lives. If it were so harmful, in general, I think that we would be able to definitively identify it. We see many more instances of cancer because it is mostly a disease that us as we become older. It is maybe true that our environment is to blame, but just recently Johns Hopkins published a paper indication that “Bad Luck of Random Mutations Plays Predominant Role in Cancer.”

    I really appreciate this blog and the effort that goes into it.

    1. Thanks for your insight Jeff! I enjoy hearing your opinion! I agree that many cancers are related to genes and family history. However, health issues that have been arising today often affect our youth not the aging. How do we explain the rise in autism in children? What about the increase in male infant reproductive abnormalities?

      Basically, I think there’s a lot we don’t know about plastics. It definitely impacts our environment which affects us. I think it’s important that we be cautious with our plastics use. The US is quite flippant with regulations compared to other countries. I think more research needs to be done, and the government ought to be more prudent in allowing certain chemicals on the market.

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