Admittedly, the title is worded somewhat provocatively. But I think that everyone of us is now aware that plastic is harmful to the environment. Nevertheless, we are so used to using plastic every day that it is not so easy to reduce our own use of plastic at first. Where do I start? Do I have to feel bad when I use plastic? Where to put all the plastic I own?
Here are my 5 tips.
1. Go slow
Once you have perceived the whole sculpture, it is practically impossible not to see it! Plastic is just EVERYWHERE. It seems as if you can never escape it. But I promise you, with a little practice you can reduce the use of plastic. It just takes time. Don't feel obliged to change everything at once or to stop touching a piece of plastic from now on. It's okay to take your time - no one becomes plastic-free or a zero-washer overnight.
Start very slowly and start where you can. Disposable coffee cups, straws, plastic bags and plastic bottles are a great start and already make a big difference! These changes are also happening outside the home. So you can focus on using up the plastic you already have at home before you move on (see point 2).
Another way to slowly start reducing plastic: Live one day a week completely (disposable) plastic-free. This way you can get an overview of when, where and in what kind of plastic you use without overstraining yourself
2. I need what you have
It is totally contradictory to a zero-waste lifestyle to throw unsustainable materials in the trash, only to buy more sustainable products. Instead, it is much more sustainable to use plastic products you already have at home (like lunch boxes or plastic drinking bottles) until they are no longer usable.
I was surprised how much (disposable) plastic I really have flying around at home when I really went through my cupboards and shelves. If you have a plastic product that is still in good shape but you want to get rid of it, there is of course the possibility to donate it
To produce less waste also means to contribute to the Second-Hand market. So the product can be used further on and does not end up on the next rubbish dump (or sometime in the seas). It also means that fewer new resources are needed to create new products.
Products that are not suitable for donation should be used up. I totally understand how tempting it is to get new make-up without microplastic or one of those nice stainless steel bottles. But unfortunately this is not really sustainable. Use things up or use them while you can, and then take the next step
If you no longer feel comfortable using some of the products because of their ingredients (e.g. microplastics or softeners), try giving the products to friends or family members (if they would use them or buy them anyway, of course)
3. Out of sight..
Sometimes under certain circumstances it makes sense to use disposable items. For example, I still have a few disposable razors from days when I didn't think about zero-waste. These prove to be useful when travelling by plane, because often you are not allowed to carry a metal razor with blade in your hand luggage. Also plastic bags are useful to keep if you reuse them as garbage bags. Here there is no reason to throw them away just like that
At the same time, you don't want to be tempted so often to use disposables, especially when you start your own zero-waste journey. Therefore, it makes sense to store these items in a place that is not so easily accessible, for example in a box on top of a shelf. This will keep you from reaching for these items. And yet they are still accessible and usable for certain situations.
4. Plastic is toxic
I have to admit: There are tons of beautiful, fancy or practical products packed in plastic. Whenever I am tempted to buy such products, I remember that plastic is toxic. It is toxic to our health and to our planet. So when I have the choice between plastic and non-plastic packed items or food, I like to choose the products that are not plastic packed. That's logical, isn't it?
Unfortunately, supermarkets still make it difficult for us to find unpackaged (or carefully packed) food. But the situation is improving! There are also plastic-free alternatives to many foods, if you just keep your eyes open
So remember from time to time that less plastic is not only good for our planet, but also for our health. This increases your motivation on a whole new level.
5. Enjoy yourself!
If you have trouble getting away from plastic, find something that makes you enjoy it. For example, a great bonus of living without plastic is that your home becomes more aesthetically pleasing. Furniture and objects without plastic are often more stable, durable and "clearer" in design.
Consumption is not the point of the zero-waste lifestyle, but getting something that motivates you or makes your life easier can help a lot! If it helps you to produce less garbage or buy less plastic in the long run, then indulge yourself! Here there are no fixed rules or do's and don'ts. If it helps you and encourages you to live a plastic-free life, buy the alarm clock glasses for your kitchen shelf or the glass straws. The important thing is that you don't throw away the equivalent plastic products. But we have already discussed this
Reducing your own consumption of plastic or establishing a zero-waste lifestyle in the long term is a long journey that will probably never end. The quintessence is: Do what you can and do your best!
If you want to learn more about sustainability, mindfulness or healthy eating, take a look here over.