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Children's Nonfiction Environmental Conservation & Protection

The Plastic Problem

by (author) Rachel Salt

Firefly Books
Initial publish date
Sep 2019
Environmental Conservation & Protection, General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2019
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2019
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 13
  • Grade: 4 to 8


"Human beings are an amazingly inventive species in creating technologies that have taken us far beyond planetary boundaries that constrain all other animals. Whether it's very powerful innovations like pesticides, antibiotics or combustion engines, we fail to consider the long-term ramifications of our enterprises in a world where everything is interconnected. Plastics are a classic example, created by chemists from complex molecules of life in fossil fuels, applied in so many useful ways but ignoring what happens when the products are discarded as waste on such a scale that we have a gargantuan problem. The story of plastic is a cautionary tale about every aspect of the way we are living in the Anthropocene."
-- David Suzuki

The shocking truth of plastic's impact on our planet -- and what we can do about it.

The data is in and it's bad. We create and throw away too much plastic, and it is killing our planet. However, too many people have very little idea about just how far this problem reaches, and those who do know feel helpless with the enormity of the task at hand.

To fill this void and provide some hope is Rachel Salt's simple and transformative book, The Plastic Problem.

As a producer for the award-winning and wildly popular YouTube channel AsapSCIENCE, Salt is accustomed to taking big, complicated concepts and translating them into entertaining and easy-to-understand segments. She applies the same methodology to The Plastic Problem. The result is a critically important book that will change the lives of those who read it. Never before has the problem been presented in such an impactful way. Readers of any age will emerge from this book with a thorough understanding of the problem, its individual and global impacts, and -- most importantly -- hope for the future.

In 18 bite-sized chapters, Salt walks readers through the invention and globalized creation of plastic, its impacts and uses in our day-today lives, and its importance to the larger global economy. She then examines the how and why of what makes plastic so harmful to our planet and, just in case there was any doubt, Salt reinforces this danger by providing chapters on the planet-choking results of our plastic habit -- including the fact that there is almost certainly, plastic floating inside each and every person in the world.

Salt finishes this vital book with a message of hope. All is not lost. We can make changes -- both at home and on a global scale.

Big changes are already happening. If you want to be an actor and help change the future, The Plastic Problem is the best place to start.

"Plastic kills. Breaking our plastic addiction is a matter of survival for humans and it impacts every creature on Earth to the deepest part of the ocean. With clear, concise prose and illustrations, The Plastic Problem navigates a way through this plastic mess we've found ourselves in."
-- Erich Hoyt, author of Encyclopedia of Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises, Orca: The Whale Called Killer and Creatures of the Deep; Research Fellow, Whale and Dolphin Conservation; Co-chair, IUCN Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force


About the author

Contributor Notes

Rachel Salt has worked as head writer, researcher and producer for AsapSCIENCE, a YouTube channel dedicated to science education with over eight million subscribers. She has a Master's Degree in Environmental Biology from the University of Guelph.


Editorial Reviews

Educational, fun... Can serve as leisure choices as well as introductory study guides.

Midwest Book Review

This great informational book answers all your questions about plastic. With easy to read text and bright photos, we learn what plastic is and where we find it in our homes, groceries and oceans. It details the toxicity of plastic, but also the need for plastic with some eye-opening information about recycling and reusing. Readers will learn how deadly this material is and how we can help and find solutions.

Calgary Herald

This book is a fun and engaging read with more than enough facts and information for upper elementary and middle school research. Highly recommended for most libraries.

School Library Journal

The simple and transformative book examines a major problem and provides some hope. As a producer for the popular award-winning YouTube channel AsapSCIENCE, Salt is accustomed to taking big, complicated concepts and translating them into entertaining and easy-to-understand segments. She does that with this critically important book that will change the lives of those who read it.

City Parent

The Plastic Problem by Rachel Salt tells of the impact of plastic on our planet. Readers are encouraged to practise the 6Rs in terms of plastic: Reduce, Reuse, Rethink, Repair, Refuse and Recycle.

Brandon Sun

This comprehensive guide takes both a microscope and a wide lens to all things plastic, offering up details on its chemical makeup as well as its quick (and problematic) rise in the manufacturing industry. YouTuber Salt breaks down complex facts into digestible bites supported by clarifying graphs and asides, equipping readers to understand scientific research and terminology surrounding what plastic is, how it's made, and how it goes to waste. One segment, for instance, explains how to decode and differentiate the various plastics used in household items, where else these plastics are used, and why. Research and plentiful examples support the content. Aside from flowcharts and info-graphs, the visuals--set as text backdrops and spot illustrations--alternate between attractive, comic-style illustrations and stock photography. A handy, hope-forward resource of particular use for the classroom.

Publishers Weekly

The Plastic Problem clearly describes what plastic is, its invention, its eventual globalized use, the impact that it has on our lives and economies, and the harmful effects it is having on all of us. A variety of non-fiction text features support readers in the middle grades (aged 9 and up) to access the important information in this book.

Canadian Teacher Magazine

This comprehensive book covers everything from how plastic is made and how it breaks down (or doesn't) to how it ends up in the ocean and affects the 700 species known to eat it. With kid-friendly examples--like the time a ship lost a container packed with 28,000 rubber duckies that then rode the ocean's currents--and easy-to-understand illustrations, this book will keep readers engaged right until the end, where they'll find a slew of hopeful solutions.

Hakai Magazine

This is a highly recommended book that is a must for students interested in cleaning up the environment and contributing to a solution for global warming.

Resource Links

This picture book surveys the global issues of plastic production and use, considering its role in various economies around the world, what makes it harmful to the environment, and how to deal with the problem on various levels, both at home and globally.

Donovan's Literary Services

This nonfiction book for middle graders covers everything from how plastic is made to its environmental impacts. The "plastic problem" itself is a big sticky one, but this well-organized and concise approach makes the topic digestible... A well-paced, current look at a major global issue with high visual interest and reader appeal.


This information-packed title capably steers the reader through the complicated steps involved in the manufacture of plastic and its subsequent impact on the environment... The complex information is capably broken down into 18 logical, easily absorbed, concise chapters. The book's attractive appearance is enhanced by user-friendly charts and sidebars with ample photos and drawings... This is an excellent resource brimming with facts, containing an upbeat message to encourage readers to become proactive in the protection of our fragile planet.

Canadian Childrens Book News

A wonderful, relevant, and needed resource for both home and schools. Highly Recommended.

Canadian Review of Materials

Other titles by Rachel Salt