This article is the first one in a series called “Plastic-Free Tuesday Challenge”. Every week someone takes up the challenge of having a Plastic-Free Tuesday, shares her/his experience here with us, and then challenges a friend to do the same next week. Do you too want to share your Plastic-Free Tuesday? Please get in touch with us, leave a comment below or send an email to info at thenameofourwebsite dot com. Today Maaike kicks of with her very first Plastic-Free Tuesday!
Do you know what day is today? It’s Plastic Free Tuesday! When my college friend Annemieke asked me to participate in a worldwide movement to create awareness for the amount of plastic in the world and hopefully minimize the impact of plastic to our environment, I didn’t hesitate and said yes. The challenge? Do not buy or throw away any plastic for a day. Sounds easy? Think again, because I failed miserably.
1. How did it feel?
I didn’t feel very different from usual to be honest. I had expected to fail, because I had been keeping tabs on Annemieke’s blog and she’s been showing her weekly plastic waste. So I knew plastic would be everywhere. Just how everywhere it was, surprised and frustrated me most. The picture above was breakfast. My yoghurt comes in a plastic container, the strawberries I bought did too but after washing them I kept them in a plastic container in my fridge. And my flax seeds are also in a plastic container. I had been up for less than 30 minutes and already I’d used three items which contained or were made out of plastic. I hadn’t thrown anything away yet though, so I was still good on the challenge.
2. First plastic item of the day?
Meet Bobble. This has been my water bottle for the past year. I use this every day. Take it to work, the gym, drink water from it at home. You name it. Bobble, much like other water bottles, is made to prevent people from buying plastic bottles containing drinks. Which in itself is a great idea. But then Bobble itself is made out of… PLASTIC! True it is recycled and BPA free plastic which is food grade safe etc. But it’s still plastic. And the filter it comes with, and is also made of plastic, has to be changed every 3 months. Not as environmentally friendly as one would think. I’ve been eyeing up Dopper now, but that is also made of guess what?! Yep, plastic.
3. Tell us about your plastic-free lunch?
What plastic free lunch? I absentmindedly grabbed two rice cakes for lunch and spread some homemade jam onto them, only to realize that I had just produced my first plastic waste of the day. My rice cakes come in a plastic wrapper and this had only one rice cake left. Yikes.
4. Easiest and hardest plastic item to avoid?
There is no easy plastic item to avoid in my opinion. Maybe kitchen utensils when cooking. Laddles and bowls can easily be replaced by wooden, glass or ceramic items. Hardest plastic items to avoid are beauty products. As proven by the two pictures above, when I got ready for the day by brushing my teeth and taking a shower, I used around 10 plastic items in the time span of 20 minutes. Shampoo? Comes in plastic. Toothpaste? Comes in plastic. Even my tooth brush, razor, lush packaging, face wash, body wash and scrub come in or are made of plastic. As far as I know my TBS Vanilla scrub does not contain plastic scrub particles, but if it had, the damage would even be worse.
5. Plastic you refused today?
None, I wasn’t offered any. But I have been refusing plastic bags when I remember to do so. I’m trying to get into the habit of carrying a tote bag in my purse to prevent unnecessary plastic bags from drugstores, HEMA and supermarkets. I’m not consistent yet, but I made a start by stuffing two canvas tote bags into my grocery bag and keeping another handy where I keep my bags.
6. Plastic you bought today?
None! I didn’t go out or bought anything that day, but if I had I’d probably would have bought something plastic. I mean, all you have to do is pick up a cucumber and you’re stuck with a plastic wrapper.
7. Plastic you threw away today?
Apart from the rice cake wrapper, I threw away a sliver of a plastic bag that contained almond meal. I used up my jar of peanut butter and as I put it away to recycle it I realized that the jar itself my be glass, but the lid is definitely plastic. Bummer!
8. Comments from the people around you?
I discussed it with my mom and she agreed with me that there is so much plastic out there. But how to avoid it? If stores and big companies do not choose to no longer package things in plastic, you’re pretty much stuck as a consumer. I know that eliminating plastic from your life is possible, but if that means I have to travel to different cities to buy things in bulk I am going to be really honest and say that I’m not up for it. And plastic is incredibly handy, which is why it is everywhere. Granted, I do think it’s being overdone, especially if you browse around your produce section and look at the amount of plastic bags you take home after a shopping spree.
9. What about next Tuesday?
There are plenty of things for which plastic is not necessary and if I see an opportunity in my own life to reduce the amount of plastic I consume I’m all for doing so. But as I said above, I’m not going to make a complete 180 and suddenly clear out all the plastic from my life. Not only because it would mean a lot of hassle, trying to find items that a) work for me (as I am wheat intolerant and have sensitive skin) and b) do not contain plastic at the same time. But also because I feel it is better to use the plastic items in my kitchen rather than getting rid of them and starting over. By throwing away all the plastic you own, you also increase the plastic waste and it’s already been made and sold. So why add it to the problem? I’ll do what I can in the mean time. I think refusing to buy bottled water and accepting as few plastic bags as possible is a start.
10. Advice for the next guinea pig?
If it’s your first Plastic Free Tuesday I would recommend to not overthink it. Just go about your day and be surprised and amazed at how much plastic you own and use on a day to day basis. Then you can take a next step and see where you can easily eliminate plastic from your life.
What was your first plastic item today?