Sunday story: the new natural

Kassidy Coleman and Jacob Sequeira want to help people live a good life – with less plastic.

Their self-published book “Pretty Much Plastic-Free: Your Guide to Breaking up With Plastic” offers a crash course in avoiding the single-use plastic items that have become ubiquitous in our daily lives – disposable straws, water bottles and produce bags. among other things. The 5-by-7-inch guide looks like a marbled notebook and is small enough to carry in a backpack or purse. It offers tips and tricks in bite-sized portions with colorful, playful illustrations.

“We named the book (that) because no one is perfect,” says Sequeira. “We don’t want people to feel pressured, but to feel comfortable, that (reducing plastic use) becomes normal.”

The couple met 12 years ago in Northern Virginia, where they worked as cashiers at a hardware store. Sequeira says he noticed Coleman and asked a manager to coordinate their lunch breaks. Did they use a lot of plastic back then? “Probably,” says Coleman, laughing. “We ate a lot of fast food and probably used a lot of plastic utensils,” Sequeira adds. Now the couple advocates shopping local, which minimizes food transportation costs and allows them to bring their own bags and containers for purchases.

Nearly six years ago, after moving to Richmond, Coleman became interested in composting as a practical solution to a household problem: Their dog routinely raided their trash, attracted by the food odors in it. “Once we started composting, it wasn’t even a problem,” says Coleman.

Sequeira admits that he was initially “very apprehensive” about changing the way they handled food waste, but he realized that composting is easier than it seems.

To share their journey with others, the duo published their first book, ‘Casually Composting’, in 2022. For their second book, they focused on the use of plastic because they want people to understand that a more environmentally conscious lifestyle is not a burden. , just a change. Coleman writes, Sequeira provides the illustrations and they work together on the content. Although they both now have day jobs, Sequeira worked full time on the plastic book.

“Kassidy really wanted to push the idea that being plastic-free should be accessible and digestible,” he says. “There is a culture of normalcy around plastic (because) of its convenience.”

While many see reducing their reliance on single-use plastics as a way to be kinder to the planet, studies show that avoiding plastic can also be kinder to your body. Researchers from the Endocrine Society and other organizations have found that exposure to chemicals from plastic can cause illness and other health problems.

“Plastic is toxic; it is harmful to your body,” says Coleman, adding, “It is good for your mental health not to have clutter and waste in your home.”

The anti-plastic mentality “makes you aware of what you do and what you buy,” says Sequeira, with he and Coleman recently choosing not to buy vegetables at the supermarket because they were wrapped in plastic. “We decided we could do without it,” he says.

Naturally, the pair notes in the book and in conversation that some plastics are essential, such as those used in medical devices. “I have an older dog with medications and supplements (packaged in plastic); I will not jeopardize her care,” said Coleman.

And there are plastics that can be used for good. “Buying long-lasting plastic, such as a Brita water pitcher or travel mug, is often accessible and an affordable option,” says Sequeira. “People may already own these and need to keep using them until they can’t anymore. Any item that reduces your single-use plastic consumption can have a bigger impact, even if the item itself is made of plastic.”

So far, the pair has received good feedback on the book’s message. Jana Flores, owner of Fill Happy, a store in Williamsburg that aims to encourage healthy lifestyles, ordered copies of “Pretty Much Plastic-Free” after seeing the book at Eco Inspired, a similar store in Bon Air. A five-year-old she knows was so impressed with the book that he took it to school to share with friends. “It’s really interesting how some kids are concerned with (caring for the environment),” Flores says. “It impresses me how attentive they are; it is very automatic for them. That gives me hope because hopefully they will inspire others.”

And that is also the goal of Coleman and Sequeira. “Everyone lives with different circumstances, so simply being aware of your impact can have lasting consequences,” says Sequeira, adding that the couple at a restaurant near their home are known for taking their own bags and discarded cutlery. “It’s about building relationships and trying to normalize being plastic-free,” he says.

Their next project: a graphic novel designed as a follow-up to their composting guide. “That was our first (book) and we want to improve it,” Sequeira says.

“We try to be the change we want to see,” says Coleman. “It will never be perfect, but you can make progress.”

You can buy “Free Plastic Free” via Etsylocally Eco-inspired in Bon Air or via online bookstores.

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