Kids Fight Plastic: 50 Missions to Help Save the Oceans by Martin Dorey, illustrated by Tim Wesson, 128 pp, RL 4

How to be a #2minutesuperhero
by Martin Dorey, illustrated by Tim Wesson
Published by Walker Books
British Sister Company of Candlewick Press
Purchased from UK based Book Depository
Dorey, a surfer, writer and camper van enthusiast was inspired to become an environmental activist in 2009 when he visited a beach that was knee-deep in plastic. More about Dorey and his many missions and books can be found at the end of this review, and I hope you will read through. What I love most about his message, both for kids and adults, is the #2minute approach: packaging the work of becoming aware, choosing change and actively working to bring about that change, be it picking up trash, reducing the plastic in your home and/or sharing your commitment and choices with others, into small bites makes it feel more actionable and less overwhelming that it is. It's so easy to be paralyzed by thinking that one person cannot make a difference, especially when we have done so much damage already, but breaking your actions and activism into increments makes it easier to take those first steps and keep on taking them. As he says in his author's note, "All I ask is that, having read this book, you continue to take 2 minutes out of your day to pick up litter, make a change, or cut out plastic from your life. It might not seem like much, but when you add it to everyone else's efforts, it begins to make a big difference."
With small bites in mind, Kids Fight Plastic is a highly accessible book portioned into 22 small bites that begins with a an overview of what plastic waste is and why and how it is damaging our world. Dorey doesn't shy away from the tough stuff. A drawing of a dead whale is used to show readers what was found in its stomach - over one thousand pieces of plastic, including 115 plastic cups, 25 plastic bags and a pair of flip flops. Other fact-bites are scattered throughout the book, including details about a monster fatberg (a congealed mass in a sewer system formed by the combination of flushed non-biodegradable solid matter like wipes and cotton swabs, and congealed grease and cooking fat), the fact that there are 750,000 plastic water bottles used at the London Marathon, and the fact that 125,000 tons of plastic waste is created in the UK every Christmas. The first mission of the book is getting to know plastic, from its history to how to identify the various kinds, to knowing which plastics are good and which are bad.  

Each mission is focuses on the areas of our lives where we can fight plastic, ways to do it and, crucially, why it is important. Embedded in each mission are 2 minute missions for readers to complete. And, knowing that a sense of accomplishment alone may not be enough for today's youth, Dorey hands out SUPERHERO POINTS for each mission completed. Accumulated points add up to a SUPERHERO RATING, telling you what kind of superhero you are. It might sound hokey, but I think that the psychology is all there. Fighting plastic requires a level of consciousness and intentionality and a specific mindset. To get kids to adopt this mindset and buy in to the movement, motivation matters. Thinking about depleting earth's natural resources and the dire future consequences (and current consequences) can be an abstract concept that is challenging for young readers to embrace. Making kids superheroes (leaders of their own learning...) on a mission, raking up points, meets them where they are.
Each mission educates while also giving readers challenges to accomplish. The missions are focused on getting kids to conserve, eliminate and clean but also to experiment and experience on their own. Mission 2, Fight Plastic in Your Bin, gives readers this 2 Minute Mission: Find three straws - one that is plastic, one that is biodegradable and one that is paper. Get a plant pot and fill it with mud. Then poke the straws halfway into the mud. Leave them for a couple of weeks and see what happens! 20 POINTS. While many of the missions are about eliminating plastics, Dorey offers replacements whenever possible, even finding ways to make it fun. In the mission about fighting plastic in your school bag, he informs readers that many candies come in plastic wrappers that cannot be recycled, offering this 2 Minute Mission: Sadly, if they come wrapped in plastic, it may be time to stop buying your old sweets. But, it's also time to go sweet shopping. Get yourself some travel sweets in a tin! Raid the pick-and-mix! 10 Points. From there, missions invite superheroes to explore the supermarket, kitchen, garden, bathroom, toilet, clothes closet, athletic field, parties, personal spending for ways to become aware of plastics and missions to eliminate them. Dorey wraps up with a brilliant idea that I love, one that works to educate others and have fun at the same time - host a plastic-free party! Finally, a bonus mission invites and instructs readers how to fight plastic with your voice with a 2 Minute Mission encouraging kids to write a letter to someone responsible for making decisions, from a local politician to a teacher or principal sharing your concerns about plastic, "what you need them to do and why." There is even a sample letter for guidance.
Martin Dorey is a self-described writer, surfer and camper van owner, author of several books about traveling the British Isles in a camper van, living in a camper van and star of BBC series One Man and His Camper Van. Visiting plastic covered beaches moved Dorey to start the non-profit Beach Clean Network, which became the 2 Minute Foundation in 2013.  Believing that "simple, achievable acts can add up to make a great difference," Dorey's foundation has launched #2minute campaigns to clean beaches and pick up litter. If you are a fan of David Sedaris and have read "Stepping Out," found in Calypsohis essay about spending 3 - 8 hours a day picking up trash along the road near his home in England, then you know that people litter in the UK thoughtlessly and copiously, without consequence. With this in mind, the #2minuteresolution is a social media campaign with the goal of inspiring others to "empower, educate, inspire" others, from individuals to groups and businesses, to make "simple changes or take part in simple actions that will contribute to the planet's wellbeing, as well as their own."
Sedaris with the local trash truck dedicated to him. He also was honored by Queen Elizabeth for "picking up rubbish."

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