How does it feel like to completely eliminate plastic from your life? Is that even possible in the 21st century?
Well, I tried. For 30 days at the end of 2017, I refused to buy or use any single-use plastic, and looked out for alternatives. In this episode, I speak openly about the struggles, experience and learnings of that month.
What’s the matter with plastic?
Also, I share some facts about plastic, so you understand the background why anyone would ever be so crazy to eliminate it from their life. Today, there are already 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic on the planet, and the numbers are growing steadily. If we don’t change anything, there will be as much as 34 billion tons in 2050.
500 times more plastic than stars
Plastic harms the environment, damages human health and impacts wildlife in many forms. And it’s so omnipresent that you can find plastic particles on the most untouched places on earth already. Scientists warn of the toxic characteristics of plastics, and yet they are the base of most of the products we use every day.
We all got three choices
When we hear all these stats and facts, there are three things we can do: Ignore the problem, put the blame corporations, governments and organisations or look at our own lifestyle and start with small changes. I’ve decided to go for the latter, and live that decision to the extreme for these 30 days.
Bulk food, festivals and shampoo experiments
The first things I looked for were all food-related: Am I gonna be able to eat anything besides bananas in this month? Oh yes! Needless to say you have the whole variety of fruits and veggies available, if you just skip the unnecessary produce bag and put the sticker directly on the fruit after weighting it. And even though my diet got pretty clean without potato chips and processed foods, I still got to live on the whole awesomeness of pastas, grains, legumes, nuts, dried fruit, flours and even cornflakes and chocolate I found at the bulk store. Seriously, these are total game changers, and I keep going back with my jars aaaall the time. Google it, or check here, if there are any stores available in your city!
Next stop, bathroom: How can I replace shampoo, shower gel, disposable razor blades, toothpaste and co? The magic solution is DIY: I found amazing recipes for making my own toothpaste, deodorant and co, and shared them all on my instagram page, check them out! Then, I experimented around with all sorts of shampoo alternatives like baking soda, apple cider vinegar, medicinal clay, rye flour. Listen and hear how it went… 😉 The easiest change of all? Soap bars instead of liquid dispensers! One more thing I can recommend is switching to safety razors (much cheaper anyways!), wooden toothbrushes and, to all ladies out here, the lunar cup! All of these changes have literally zero effect on your daily life and make you feel better and healthier, too.
What about the household, darling? Home, that was a tough one. I read online about washing nuts to clean your clothes and recipes for own detergents, but somehow wasn’t really happy with the stuff I made (please, if you have any recipes, send them to me). I went and asked around, and finally found a store that sells ecological clothes, dishwasher and cleaning detergents in bulk, you just bring your own containers, add a scent of your choice and that’s it. Super cool, cheap, healthy and good for the planet.
Around the city. My friends always make fun of the amount of things that I plan in one day, and I do indeed have a very active lifestyle. From sports over parties and organising all sorts of events, to this podcast, art exhibitions and uni life, there’s a lot I do and I spend quite a lot of time on the streets. So how to mix that with the plastic challenge? One thing I learned is to be creative and adaptable: For the lack of a reusable coffee cup, I was carrying around an old mason jar to fill up with fresh hot coffee, or just had my cup to stay whenever I was craving it. My water bottle still is an old tomato sauce bottle, and works perfectly for me like that. Food-wise, I sometimes took bags or my own containers when I wanted to get bread or takeaways, and consequently said no to chocolate bars or other guilty pleasures. And of course, I learned quickly to order any drink without straw. I even went to a four day music festival, and with a bit of preparation, smart drink choices and my reusable cup, plate and cutlery didn’t have any problem either – anything is possible if you just want it enough.
Would I do it again?
I am super grateful for the experience, it really opened my eyes towards the incredible amounts of plastic that usually is in our daily life. At some point I went into a normal supermarket and suddenly felt like I was walking on a landfill. Our world has become super disposable, and I’m very happy about all the changes that I’ve learned about! Although I’m not 100% plastic free anymore, I still haven’t bought a single plastic bottle, bag or straw and kept most of the habits I learned during those 30 days. If you want a summary of all the changes, here it is. Feel free to share the picture, just please tag me for the credit.
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