Taking on the plastics crisis

Hannah Testa

Book - 2020

"In this personal, moving essay, youth activist Hannah Testa shares with readers how she led a grassroots political campaign to successfully pass state legislation limiting single-use plastics and how she influenced global businesses to adopt more sustainable practices"--

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Review by Booklist Review

The Pocket Change Collective series (2 new titles) invites young activists to share their stories, their causes, and, in many cases, their art with teen readers. Taking on the Plastics Crisis delivers straightforward advise for getting involved in the global movement to eliminate single-use plastics. Hannah Testa may only be 17, but she already has a long list of successes in the areas of environmental and animal activism. By telling her own story, she demonstrates many ways young people can make a meaningful difference in the fight against plastics, whether that's by collecting signatures for petitions, holding fundraisers, speaking publicly, contacting governmental officials, or simply adding another two Rs to the standard three: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Refuse, and Raise Awareness. These slim, pocket-sized paperbacks--both penned by women of color--contain volumes, and teens will soak up the passion spilling from their pages.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up--This title aims to inspire teens and preteens to make changes that will significantly reduce the use of plastics in their personal lives, in their communities, and beyond. Testa, an American teen of Indian descent from Cumming, GA, is a sustainability advocate, international speaker, and founder of the nonprofit Hannah4Change. Testa writes with passion about the specific actions that she and other young people have taken to reduce plastics use and repair environmental damages. The result is a blueprint that readers can use to immediately curtail and eventually eliminate single-use plastics from their own lives and their communities. This very succinct volume doesn't include a table of contents, a glossary, or recommended further reading. VERDICT This pep talk on a pressing environmental issue showcases science, suggestions for community organizing and leadership, and compelling motivation to make a difference. Recommended for junior high and high school nonfiction collections.--Kelly Kingrey-Edwards, Blinn Junior College, Brenham, TX

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

Teen environmental activist and founder of the nonprofit Hannah4Change, Testa shares her story and the science around plastic pollution in her fight to save our planet. Testa's connection to and respect for nature compelled her to begin championing animal causes at the age of 10, and this desire to have an impact later propelled her to dedicate her life to fighting plastic pollution. Starting with the history of plastic and how it's produced, Testa acknowledges the benefits of plastics for humanity but also the many ways it harms our planet. Instead of relying on recycling--which is both insufficient and ineffective--she urges readers to follow two additional R's: "refuse" and "raise awareness." Readers are encouraged to do their part, starting with small things like refusing to use plastic straws and water bottles and eventually working up to using their voices to influence business and policy change. In the process, she highlights other youth advocates working toward the same cause. Short chapters include personal examples, such as observations of plastic pollution in Mauritius, her maternal grandparents' birthplace. Testa makes her case not only against plastic pollution, but also for the work she's done, resulting in something of a college-admissions--essay tone. Nevertheless, the first-person accounts paired with science will have an impact on readers. Unfortunately, no sources are cited and the lack of backmatter is a missed opportunity. Brief yet inspirational, this story will galvanize youth to use their voices for change. (Nonfiction. 12-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

February 15, 2018: It might seem like an ordinary, forgettable date, but in the state of Georgia, it was Plastic Pollution Awareness Day--a day I helped create with a state senator when I was fourteen. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I stood inside the Georgia State Capitol, holding a rolled-up paper in my clammy hands. My heart was fluttering. My fingers trembled with fear. I was about to deliver a speech to fifty-six state senators. But first I had to wait for the speaker--an adult--at the podium to finish hers. From the side of the stage, I gazed out at the crowd: No one seemed to be paying any attention to the person giving her speech. My chest tightened. I had been working toward this moment for a year--to be on this very stage to raise awareness about the growing plastics crisis. And all I could think was how no one would listen to my speech either, especially because I was just a teenager. Over the course of 2017, I started to see the plastics industry for what it really was: powerful corporations and lobbyists, people paid by companies to influence politicians. And the last thing they wanted was for a speech like mine to be heard. In fact, the plastics industry came out in full force to stop this event from happening, and when I really think about it, their motives can be summed up with one word: fear. Fear that I might shine a light on the realities of single-use plastics and their negative impact on the environment, animal welfare, and our health. Fear that the industry would lose money, as it saw a decline in the use of plastic. Fear that people like me were using their voices. But any attempts to stop me only made me want to speak louder. So, I stood my ground. But as I stood in the capitol building, ready to deliver that speech, I suddenly started to lose confidence in myself. If the senators weren't listening to an adult, why would they listen to me? Each passing minute felt longer than the next. As the woman at the podium spoke her last words into the microphone, the state senators hardly seemed to notice. No one clapped. Tough crowd , I thought. I took a deep breath. It was my turn. I felt my legs quiver as I stepped up to the podium and lowered the microphone. I looked out at the room, scattered with senators milling about, talking among themselves, paying little attention to me. I scanned the audience and found my mom and brother smiling at me. Beside me stood my dad, and my friend and mentor, John R. Seydel, a director with the city of Atlanta. On my other side was Senator Nan Orrock, the politician I worked with to create this historic day. For a brief moment, I felt at ease, having all these people with me for support. I took another deep breath to soak in this moment: There I was, a high-school freshman who wasn't even of voting age, and yet I was about to deliver a speech to the decision makers in my home state of Georgia. Forget "pinch me" moments--this was make-or-break. I opened my mouth and began my speech. Suddenly, it was as if every senator simultaneously realized that there was a teenager at the mic. Silence blanketed the room and every eye was on me. Everyone was listening to me. To my voice. For the next few minutes, I spoke about the growing crisis before us. I spoke about how plastic is washing up on our shores by the ton--flooding our oceans and choking our animal and marine life. And how microplastics are seeping into our bodies through water bottles and other single-use plastics. And how, by 2050, plastic production is projected to quadruple, further adding to carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to climate change--unless we act now . "This is our moment. This is our movement. This is our mission," I said, wrapping up my speech. I concluded it with a final question: "Are you with us?" My speech was met with an overwhelming round of applause. From that moment--that unforgettable February day--I recognized firsthand that young people have voices, and we can be heard. I realized then and there that political movements start with a decision to use our voices. And for me, it started with the decision to take on the plastics crisis. Excerpted from Taking on the Plastics Crisis by Hannah Testa All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.