Habits aren’t just easily changed, especially when you suddenly make big differences in your life it is up to you to keep them up and to implement them as well as you can. When introducing new habits into your life, go slow and do not change all habits at once. Many times this won’t work. Going completely waste free would have been an impossible change and we wouldn’t even have lasted a week. We are only on the beginning of our waste free journey and that is why we wanted to start with our plastic waste. So much plastic gets wasted and ends up in landfill and the oceans. Each year around 300 million tons of plastic is produced globally, but the sad thing is that there is an estimate of 100 million tons of plastic already in the ocean. Even sadder; 100 million marine animals are killed each year due to all the plastic in the ocean.
The crazy thing is that while many people say that we cannot live without plastic. It actually hasn’t been around that long. The first fully synthetic plastic was only invented in 1907. But it makes sense it became so popular. It’s a cheap and handy way to wrap, consume, drink, take-out and so on. Think of something you need and plastic is there. The problem is just that we use way to much plastic!
In a perfect world, plastic would get recycled, but since we produce and waste so much, it is impossible to work through the amounts we have. And recycling plastic takes so much energy that it would be a lot better just to eliminate it! Also many plastic items get thrown out with regular trash, on the streets or you live in a country that doesn’t do recycling. In the end only 10% of the plastic that is produced is recycled, the rest ends up in our oceans, beaches and forests.
Writing this I can imagine that I don’t have convince many people that plastic isn’t good. Most people already realise that we have to use less or no plastic. But how can we do that when our whole world revolves around it? Go to any supermarket, store or restaurant and you will see packaging, bags, plastic utensils, cups and much more!
We were inspired to see how our lives would be influenced if we completely took out plastic. So we challenged ourselves to live one week without plastic. The rules where that we couldn’t buy any products with plastic, and all the plastic waste we accidentally made we had to carry and keep with us for the rest of the week.
The week started out strong! Normally I do groceries on Sunday, but for the sake of being plastic free I decided to wait till Monday, I loved walking through the store on the lookout for plastic free items, and then when you find something the feeling is great! However it also made me sad that so many produce was packaged in plastic. It’s so unnecessary! Also many stickers are made from plastic, so look out for those, because most fruit had stickers on them, which made buying bananas and apples a challenge.
What made it a bit easier is that I already have quite a bit of products such as lentils, beans and grains bought in bulk, so I didn’t really have to buy much other than veggies and fruit to last the week. I reckon it would be a lot more difficult when you don’t have a lot of products already in your home. This week has been a good eye opener to all the plastic still in my house, because cleaning supplies and plastic toilet paper packaging isn’t something I think about on a daily basis. Those products can totally be replaced by plastic free items, but where we live plastic free stores aren’t really popping, and most bulk places are quite expensive, and seen as a luxury. So it hasn't been a thing I really invested in. Time to change!
There are other things I can only find wrapped in plastic and I still have no idea how to get them plastic free. I didn’t have to buy any electronics during our plastic week, but I am planning to visit USA in a few months and I will need a power converter and I can only find plastic wrapped ones.
I accidentally bought ice cream that was packaged in carton but the popsicles where individually wrapped in plastic. It also happened on the last day, so that was really annoying. However the worst thing was when I got a few commercial magazines in my postbox that were wrapped in plastic.
Tips if you want to go plastic free
Be kind to yourself, you need time to transition and get used to it!
Pack your own food
Get used to taking your own bags, cups, utensils and straws all the time!
Some chocolate is plastic free, which made me super happy!
Don’t be ashamed to bring your own cups, utensils and stuff! Most people will actually applaud you for it and it will inspire others!
For woman; use a menstrual cup! I have been using it for two years now and it changed my life
What did we make ourselves during our plastic free week
Bread (although some bakeries might let you take your own bread bags)
What did we sacrifice
Tofu and tempeh! I could not find this without plastic wrapping anywhere
Most processed food comes in plastic, but not being able to buy those will be good for my health, so this is actually a positive thing
Shopping might take a lot longer (and I definitely had to go to several stores) and being plastic free kind of dictates what you can get and is available
Organic produce (mostly cucumbers), somehow organic veggies are wrapped in cling-foil, while the non-organic ones aren’t!? What’s up with that?
So now what
Now that our experiment is over we noticed that although it is possible to live a week without plastic, it takes some getting used to. We are now just looking for alternatives to the things we cannot find replacement for. We will keep on making most products ourselves, and I am trying my best to learn how to make tofu from soybeans instead of buying it.