Plastic Free Co-Authored by Port Stephens writer Joanna Atherfold Finn

Joanna Atherfold Finn at Nelson Bay Marina. Photo by Marian Sampson.


PLASTIC Free July is a movement that was born in Western Australia and has spread across the world with the global environmental movement now active in 177 countries.

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It was in 2018 that local Joanna Atherfold Finn first joined in.

This year will see the author participate once again in a movement which aims to change behaviours.

It has become something that she has been living and breathing for the past two years when she started writing the story of the inspiring movement with Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, the woman who asked a small group of friends and colleagues if they would like to try going plastic free with her for a month.

The Book Plastic Free takes the reader along the journey of the “accidental campaign” that Prince-Ruiz started.

Rebecca Prince-Ruiz said, “In 2018 I appeared on the ABC TV’s War on Waste episode focused on plastics in the scene where Craig Reucassel stood on the giant plastic ‘footprint’ on Manly Beach and we discussed what people could do to be part of the solution.

“When it went to air that July it was the same time that the supermarkets had introduced a ban on lightweight bags yet one chain kept giving away the thicker plastic bags for free. “NewSouth publisher Elspeth Menzies was so disappointed with the decision she emailed me the next day to discuss it and the rest is history,” she said.

Joanna Atherfold Finn told News Of The Area, “I missed the Fremantle book launch due to COVID-19 border restrictions, but thanks to technology I was able to watch it and it was a wonderful celebration of not only the book, but the 10 year anniversary of Plastic Free July.”

Finn’s previous book Watermark is a work of fiction, one which creates characters and takes the reader through short stories with a coastal theme.

This book is very different, taking the reader to a place where we can be better than we were.

“Plastic Free July is an accessible challenge, which is part of its appeal.”

Finn expounds the benefits of being single-use plastic free and admits that it takes time to make these changes and to make them a way of life.

She hopes others will be inspired to use less single-use plastic after reading the book and also hopes they will get involved in local plastic-free initiatives like Plastic Free Port Stephens.

One story that really hit home for Finn was the destructive nature of plastic on Lord Howe Island’s flesh-footed shearwaters.

Lord Howe Island has a pristine environment, yet shearwaters are unwittingly feeding chicks plastic fragments.

Dr Jennifer Lavers works with the shearwater population and described how she once found 276 pieces of plastic in one chick.

“That is just unfathomable.

“It’s sickening; it’s negligent; it’s a problem that humans are one hundred per cent responsible for and it is not some distant example.

“This issue is on our doorstep,” said Finn.

Plastic Free July: The Inspiring Story of a Global Environmental Movement and Why It Matters by Rebecca Prince-Ruiz and Joanna Atherfold Finn is published by NewSouth Books and available from all good bookstores.



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