Celebrated Port Stephens author Joanna Atherfold Finn has backed up her successful literary debut Watermark with the publication of a new book on a subject that is very close to her heart.
Plastic Free: The Inspiring Story of a Global Environmental Movement and Why It Matters is co-written by the Anna Bay mother of three in collaboration with Plastic Free July founder Rebecca Prince-Ruiz to coincide with the 10-year anniversary of the movement that has swept across the globe.
"I have always had concerns for environmental issues and my interest in the plastic free movement hit home at the time of the shipping container spill off Port Stephens," said Atherfold Finn, a Newcastle University PHD graduate, acclaimed journalist and novelist.
"So when I was approached by Rebecca to co-write the book I saw it as a great opportunity to open people's eyes on the subject and at the same time educate myself."
Despite living on opposite sides of the country - Rebecca calls Fremantle, in Western Australia, home - the pair found they had much in common and were able to work well together despite the tyranny of distance.
"The project took 15 months to complete but the last six months were the most challenging, not only due to COVID but also to meet our July anniversary deadline," Atherfold Finn said.
The book has a very human element to it, showcasing people from some of the 177 countries now taking part in the Plastic Free July challenge.
Every great journey begins with a small step and it was a decision in 2010 by Rebecca to invite friends to go plastic free for a month back that turned into the mammoth campaign that it is today.
The authors make it clear that the project is not about preaching.
"Some people just focus on the 'Top 4' single-use plastics, which we discuss in the book, others go completely zero plastic waste for the month and others make the challenge a new way of life," said Atherfold Finn. "It's a very accessible challenge, which is a huge part of its appeal."
Atherfold Finn believes that readers would find many of the stories fascinating, such as the woman in India who struggles to make a difference in a developing nation and the soccer coach from New Zealand who bans kids from taping their boots and sports bottles.
Then there are those stories closer to home such as the destructive nature of plastic on Lord Howe Island's flesh-footed shearwaters.
Dr Jennifer Lavers, who works with the shearwater population, describes in the book how she once found 276 pieces of plastic in one chick.
The book is published by NewSouth Publishing and is available from all good bookstores.
It is also being published by Columbia University Press in December 2020.