Plastic-free for one day
Spoiler alert: I couldn’t!
I think of myself as an environmentalist: I eat a plant-based diet, buy my produce locally and in season, and have cut out fast fashion completely. But the truth is, everywhere I look around me I see a lot of plastic. In the kitchen, in the bathroom, in my clothes, in my food…. So, I decided to challenge myself to go without plastic for one day. plastic-free day. If you are wondering why plastic is so bad, Read Why Plastic is bad. Or listen to these audiobooks. 24 hours shouldn’t be that difficult, right? Wrong, but I’ll get to that later.
Plastic-free for one day
I woke up to my alarm feeling fully ready for the challenge ahead. I turned it off, stood up, and it struck me: I had already lost. My smartphone has plastic! I decided that my phone wouldn’t be part of the challenge and carried on to the shower.
Being completely honest, I was prepared for the plastic-free 1 day. I had been using solid
shampoo and soap for a while, so I felt ready to ace the rest of the test (overlooking the smartphone situation). After showering, I put on some jeans and a cotton sweatshirt, ensuring that there were no plastic components in the clothes.
Breakfast for plastic-free day
Bread, as usual, bought in the bakery with a cloth bag; black tea – not a bag, loose leaf with an infuser; and an apple, bought in bulk in the supermarket. The hardest part was the bread topping. I usually go with cheese, but all my cheese options were somehow packaged in plastic. I decided to make myself a scrambled egg, which came in an egg carton. Another level passed!
By the way, when it comes to food, it is always better for the environment to eat local. Read top 10 tips for sustainability in this blog for details.
After breakfast, I went to brush my teeth. Once more, I felt super ready with my sustainably sourced bamboo toothbrush and toothpaste in a jar. Teeth brushed, face washed, it was time for moisturizer. All my options were either completely packaged in plastic or had a plastic lid, so I had to drop it. Dry face for today.
Lunch for plastic-free day
Since breakfast was a bit harder than I had expected, I decided to go out shopping for my lunch. As I was walking to the supermarket, crossing streets, I realized something: cars, buses, motorcycles, metro, even bikes, they all have plastic components! However, I was walking, so I didn’t have to worry about cheating. For now.
Walking down the aisles of the supermarket I was feeling uninspired. I decided to start my quest by searching for my lunch’s main protein source, maybe that would spark my creativity. Meat, fish, tofu, cheese, all of them wrapped in plastic. I didn’t want to have eggs again, so I grabbed a can of chickpeas. Better than plastic, right? I decided to cook a chickpea curry, so I grabbed the remaining things I needed: a can of coconut milk, a potato, a glass of tomato paste and some veggies. Sounds yummy, I thought.
While waiting for my turn at the cashier, I became observant. There was not a single person around me making completely plastic-free purchases, except for me, of course, although that is also not always the case.
On my nice walk back home, I bought some bread. Sadly, I didn’t pack another cloth bag, but they sold it in paper bags. After the nice lady scanned all my eco-purchases, I was feeling empowered packing them in my own cloth bag. Cash or card? she asked. Card. And there it was. Strike number 2. My debit card is obviously made of plastic. I paid with the card, but the proud feeling was already gone.
Back home I started preparing my lunch. Peeling and cutting veggies, opening cans, getting my pots and a wooden spoon, and turning on the fire. All good. So far. Guess what? All my spices were in these spice jars with a plastic top. No can do. Fortunately, I remembered I had this amazing curry
paste in a glass jar, which basically needs no other seasoning. It completely saved my dish.
I like having curry with rice, but I only found rice in plastic packaging, so I went without it. Still pretty tasty. Dessert was an orange packaged only in its natural clothing: peel.
After lunch I decided I had to get some work done. I put the dishes in the dishwasher, which, I realized, was also full of plastic. This day is going great.
I sat in front of my laptop with a nice warm cup of loose-leaf tea on the table. I turned it on, and just as I was typing my password, a little voice in my head asked: what is your keyboard made of? You guessed it right: plastic. I still had to work, but it was not easy to concentrate with that pressing feeling of failure.
A few hours into work I got hungry, so I decided to make myself a snack. Yogurt was not an option (obviously packed in plastic), and a piece of fruit didn’t feel like enough. So, I chose bread. Again. Luckily, I remembered that I had some avocadoes, so I made myself a tasty avo toast. And I went back to work.
I was exhausted, so I just made myself a nice soup with veggies I had in the fridge (all bought in bulk) and the remaining chickpeas I didn’t put in the curry.
I wanted to watch some Netflix before going to bed, but I realized both the TV and the remote were mostly plastic, so I just grabbed a book. After some time, I turned off my lights on a plastic switch and went to sleep. At least my dreams are plastic-free.
What I learned
As you see, I couldn’t even go 24h without plastic. I literally failed in the first few minutes of the challenge. And this is coming from an “environmentalist”. I put it in quotation marks because I’m not sure I deserve the title anymore.
For real: leading a completely plastic-free life is just not possible for a person living in modern society. However, you cannot let this bring you down. Start by being more mindful every time you go shopping, choose the plastic-free options and try more sustainable alternatives. The planet will be thankful, and I’ll be thankful too.
Listen to a Free Audiobook about why plastic is harmful