Single-use plastic free living since 2017
My plastic free journey started 1.5 years ago.
While traveling through South East Asia 2016/2017 I became aware how huge the plastic pollution problem is. In May and June 2017 I already started to become more aware and used less plastic, but there have still been so much plastic around….
I read about “plastic free July” somewhere and this turned my boat around.
One month without using plastic. Is this actually possible?
I remember in July 2017 I have been to an event, and they had freebies (packaged nuts) and somebody said: just take it and eat it in August. And I said: but what if I just don’t want to buy/use plastic after this July anymore?
And now it’s been one year, without buying new plastic….
Easy but challenging
No it wasn’t too easy in the beginning. But it wasn’t too hard for me either.
I learned about myself that I actually don’t need all of those colorful products on the shelves. I actually find it very easy to just not buy products.
If I can’t find it without plastic I just don’t buy it, I will find something else. I will make a different kind of meal, I will try my own recipe.
I got shamed into taking the single use plastic container for strawberries on a market during the first week because I have been to shy to refuse.
Now, I don’t care what other people think anymore. If they refuse my reusables I refuse to give them my money, I go to the next vendor.
During the first weeks, even months, I focused on all of the plastic wrapped stuff that I didn’t wanted to buy anymore.
Slowly it turned around and since then I only focus on those products on the shelves that I still can buy.
Sure, when I arrived to the US and I couldn’t find any oats plastic free (they where all either packaged in a bigger plastic bags or in those small sachets….why????)
I was crazy mad for a few minutes. I didn’t understand why they would do that… pack oats into small sachets, even tell me how big my portion should be? Didn’t make sense. And yes, I didn’t buy it, I bought something else. No oats for breakfast this time.
When I realized that every mid class hotel in the US serves breakfast with disposable styrofoam or plastic cups, plates, cutlery I’ve been devastated!!!
Sooooo much trash!! Single use trash!!! Imaging the amount of single use plastic and styrofoam trash for all the years all the hundreds of thousands of guest….
I didn’t participate, I used my own cutlery and plate and cup.
What changed? I changed…
Since I quit plastic, I learned that I can make my body lotion, deodorant, mosquito repellent, peeling, tooth powder or paste easily myself if I can find the ingredients in bulk or paper or glass.
I make veggies patties fresh, I even tried to make vegan cheese (delicious).
I save money because I don’t buy plastic bottled water, unhealthy snacks, single use tampons, make up removal pads, cling film, paper towels anymore.
I get creative:
In Mexico I needed sugar to bake a cake. But they only sold sugar in plastic bags. Because of humidity maybe?
So before I bought the plastic packaged sugar I went to a bakery and asked if they could sell me 200g sugar and out it into my bag, and voila, they looked a little irritated first but when I explained that I just don’t need 1 KG of sugar because I am only here for a holiday, they where sure…. Sometimes it is easier if you don’t say it is because you want to refuse plastic 😉
But sometimes it is your chance to get something plastic free if you tell them: I am on a plastic free challenge/or mission. I had some people searching the shop for paper bags without a plastic lining to help me win a challenge 😀
So I learned to focus on the positive things.
I learned to seek solutions not more problems.
But yes, since I am aware about plastic pollution I also see it everywhere. I cannot ignore it anymore.
But I try not to be as focused on the bad anymore. If I see something I can easily change (like pick up a few pieces of trash) I do so. I don’t complain anymore, I just pick it up.
I would lie if I would say it doesn’t make me sad anymore to see litter on beaches, parks, streets. And yes I feel angry if I see party trash laying around.
But rather than being upset, I try to get involved and do what I can to feel better.
I started to open up conversations, to write Emails to businesses, to spread awareness.
Family and friends: It is my journey, it might not be their journey
Yes, I also needed to learn that this is MY journey, and MY choice.
If family and friends or my partner doesn’t want to be as strickt as I am, I need to tolerate this. Like they need to tolerate that I don’t want this trash in my life anymore. (Like they need to rethink gifts, etc;)
And yeah I know this feeling when somebody is opting for a take away cup and you think: this is so unnecessary, but STOP! Remember, before you started this journey, would you have taken this cup? Sure you would have, because it has been normal for you.
Now your and my normal is different. Be patient. Just show how you are doing it differently, don’t force anyone to follow.
You might be surprised how many of your friends or family members will follow your path one day.
You might also see some of your friends might not follow in any way. But then it will either be a friendship with a difference, or a friendship that might end one day because your life’s go different paths. And thats ok too.
Living single-use plastic free means for me:
I refuse all the plastic that I can control! And at the moment I would say I live a 95% single-use plastic free life!
I also still use plastic that I have from before, because I don’t want to just throw it away to get rid of all the plastics because I know where it will end up to….
But I don’t buy anything in plastic if I don’t need it. I still buy things I need like medications, shoes, prescription glasses. I still use my phone and laptop.
Because yes, plastic is not only bad, there are good and life saving plastics too.
But we must stop using it for disposable, single use products.
I refuse the straw.
I always ask for no straw, and if they still bring me some it is really not my fault. I can’t change that. I don’t count that anymore.
I also buy glass jars if it comes with that tiny plastic seal around it. These are tiny bits of plastic that I don’t count anymore. In some countries all of the glasses have these seals. In other countries a lot of glasses have no plastic seals, and then I can choose the plastic free ones.
All of the others I do refuse: single use plastics (the big 4 and more) I don’t buy plastic wrapped fresh produce anymore.
I will have my lunch/coffee for here rather than to go. Or I bring my own cup.
If I order food in a restaurant and they serve the dressing in a disposable cup while everything else comes with reusables, I don’t count it as a fail. But I might just ask in the next location if any single use plastic is involved. Ans tell them that I don’t want any single use plastic on my plate.
If I would end up in a situation where I would need single plastic bottles so survive? Hell yeah I would use them. We need to drink to survive 😀 But until then, I refill my bottle from tap, from water refill stations, in restaurants and coffee shops. In countries without save tap water I use my filter bottle (filters out 99.9999% of all contaminants), I buy 5 gallon refillable container or ask for refills in coffee shops too.
If I need something that only comes in plastic:
I try to find something that is actually reusable or recyclable. Or maybe something that is made of recycled plastic, instead of virgin plastic. Or I try to find it second hand so that I don’t need to order a new product.
I still have plastic stuff from prior to my plastic free lifestyle. And I will keep using it until it breaks apart. It is a mosquito repellent plastic spray bottle I use for my self made deodorant. Or a foldable silicone container. A plastic container our hosts wanted to throw away. Etc…
Living “plastic free”/zero waste in the plastic age doesn’t mean you can actually live plastic free for a 100%
(a lot of bulk products come in huge plastic bags/packaging, paper packaged food or fresh produce might have been wrapped in a big plastic bag too, if you eat out in a restaurant the groceries are not plastic free, etc.) but you can reduce plastic to a 50%-70%-90%-98% and hell yeah if that’s not awesome I don’t know what it is 😉
If you want to get started with your plastic free life sign up fo the plastic free July challenge.
Trying to quit plastic for one month is a great start to become aware and find alternatives, and who knows, maybe in 2019 you will say: wow, now it has been one year of plastic free/or reduced living already 🙂
And yes, I will continue! I feel healthier, better, happier if I don’t use single use plastics.
I definitely had days where I wanted to “quit” 😀 but the same day when I saw littered plastic on the streets, beach, or hear about oil spills somewhere, I knew I need to continue.
Because everyday I refuse plastic, every time I order “but no disposable plastic please”, every time I bring my own cup or container I will touch people somehow. I will raise awareness somehow. And I will refuse a lot of plastic waste.
I hope it will become easier in the future, and accessible for many more people.
And hopefully the industry is helping us by using better packaging more and more…
What about you? Have you been joining plastic free July already? Are you joining this year? Or maybe next year?
You can also join my free email course on how to reduce your daily plastic: click here to sign up