When Beth Terry saw a photo of an albatross with a rib cage full of trash, she decided to give up plastic. Today, Terry might just be the world’s foremost expert on how to live without the stuff. And that’s no easy task. Think about all the nooks and crannies of our lives that plastic has made its way into: food packaging, clothing, the protective box your favorite gadgets come in, even facial scrubs. And while there are all kinds of reasons to hate plastic, for Beth Terry, it’s an issue of justice. “The more I learn about plastic, the more I realize that it’s those most vulnerable on the planet — whether it’s animals or babies or poor people — who are affected the most,” she says.

Terry’s new book Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too is published without plastic, all the way down to the glue. (If you’re going to shop for it online, check out her website first to learn about buying from a place that has committed to shipping it without plastic.) We talked with Terry recently about plastic-free living, why the proposed alternatives to bisphenol A (BPA) might be worse, and the connection between cutting out plastic and building a local economy.

Q. Why did you write this book? Whom are you trying to reach?

A. While I was writing, I was thinking: What would have helped me when I didn’t know anything? I tried to make this a book for people who are just starting [to cut out plastic], or who are already on their way.

I’ve been working on going plastic-free for five years. I did it slowly. I really recommend that people take it step by step, and then it won’t take so much time. Because a lot of the time and effort is just developing a new habit. Once you have the habit, you don’t have to think about it. For example, I never leave the house without a reusable bag anymore — and I don’t have a car, so it’s not a matter of leaving a bag in the car. It’s not hard, it was just learning to remember to do that in the beginning.