Plastic, Waste & Me
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Plastic. It's everywhere, from the deepest part of the ocean to the highest mountain of the planet. We touch it every day, eat it, wear it, and smear it on our faces. More than 10 billion tons of plastic have been produced since 1950 - this amount weighs more than all living animals and humans on the planet together! And only a small fraction of it is recycled. Far too much is burned, ends up in landfills or the environment - and ultimately on our plates. In its life cycle, plastic not only poisons the soil, air and water, but also threatens the health of humans and animals.

But what exactly is plastic? What is it made of and who benefits from its increasing production? Why is more recycling not a solution? What does plastic have to do with us and why are we affected by it in different ways? And above all: What can we do against the plastic flood? The book poses 70 questions concerning all aspects of plastic and answers them in intuitive infographics, complemented by six true stories and a comprehensive glossary with more technical terms.

The Heinrich Böll Foundation and the award-winning book designer Gesine Grotrian have created this non-fiction book about plastic for people aged 12 and over. It has been developed together with more than 40 youth from all over the world who were involved in the making of the book at every stage.

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If you like to browse through the digital edition of the book please click here.

Product details
Date of Publication
June 2021
Heinrich Böll Foundation
Number of Pages
Language of publication
Table of contents

How does this book work?

Plastic must interest us! Preface

Which question can I find where?


  • Where is plastic?
  • What is in plastic?
  • How does plastic get to us?
  • How much plastic is around me?
  • How much plastic is in clothes?
  • What does plastic do to marine animals?
  • Do land animals die from plastic?
  • How did we live in the past?
  • How much plastic was produced?
  • What is plastic?
  • What are the main types of plastic?
  • What are the differences between polymers?
  • What are additives?
  • Why is plastic so dangerous?
  • Where does plastic hide in cosmetics?
  • Does plastic make you sick?
  • What if I want to know what's in it?
  • What happens when I drink plastic?
  • What does plastic do to hygiene?
  • Menstruation without plastic & taboo?
  • What is plastic used for?
  • How often do we package the earth?
  • How is a PET bottle made?
  • How much plastic is produced worldwide?
  • What connects wealth & plastic waste?
  • How does plastic affect people?
  • Is it possible to live on garbage?
  • How much plastic becomes garbage?
  • What is left over when it is burned?
  • Where does Germany take its garbage?
  • Who exports garbage to Malaysia?
  • How do Zero Waste Cities work?
  • How does PET recycling work?
  • What prevents recycling?
  • Why is plastic recycling not a solution?
  • Why is reusable good?
  • How much plastic does a festival save?
  • How should products be made?
  • Who invented plastic?
  • How long has plastic been around?
  • How long has plastic been used?
  • How much plastic is in the ocean?
  • Where is the garbage floating in the ocean?
  • Where does the trash in the ocean come from?
  • How does plastic threaten seabirds?
  • How do birds fly with plastic in their stomachs?
  • Can you get plastic out of the ocean?
  • How does plastic get into the ocean?
  • What is microplastic & how is it formed?
  • Where does plastic in the soil come from?
  • How does plastic get into the soil?
  • How much plastic do I eat?
  • Is there "bio"-degradable plastic?
  • What about "bio"-based plastic?
  • How do labels cheat?
  • Who is responsible for plastic waste?
  • How do I do a brand audit?
  • Who profits from plastic?
  • What is fracking?
  • What is plastic doing to the climate?
  • How do we stop the plastic flood?
  • What are governments doing about plastic?
  • Why a plastics treaty?
  • How can I become politically active?
  • How & where to buy unpacked?
  • What do I need to act differently?
  • How does reusable work as a system?
  • How do you live with a plastic factory?
  • Who fights against plastic?
  • School & university plastic-free, is that possible?

What do these words mean? Glossary

Where do we get the facts? Sources

Who participated? Imprint