A Week Without Plastic: Kristiana's Story
We’re on to Week 8 of a Week Without Plastic! This week we spoke to EcoVibe’s Kristiana!
You’ll be familiar with our starting point by now if you’re a regular reader of our blog. Kristiana filled us in on how she prepared for her plastic-free week. She said:
‘I went shopping at my local market and brought my own bags, only bought loose fruits and veggies and went to Jar Tree, the plastic-free shop in Leeds. I bought some packaging free, wholegrain pasta, beans and lentils. I got some curry and garlic powder, so most of my meals for the day were sorted. Preparation wasn’t too difficult because I have been trying to reduce my plastic and already had a bamboo toothbrush, compostable period products and have been using hydrophil and other soap and shampoo bars. My biggest plastic usage came from foods, mostly snacks, dips, ready meals and frozen food.’
Plastic, plastic everywhere!
Next, we asked Kristiana what the first thing was she noticed when starting the week.
‘All the plastic on the streets. I was thinking a lot about my impact and I noticed the trash even more. Avoiding single-use plastic is difficult for your average person who has an average lifestyle and shops where most people do. There is no excuse for just throwing your trash on the streets! All the fast-food packaging, all the empty energy drink bottles, diapers, you name it… My biggest disappointment is that most of the plastic food packaging, such as spinach or salad bags, are made of non-recyclable materials. In other European countries, almost every plastic wrapper can and must be recycled. If you fail to recycle, your local council will fine you. In the UK reality is quite different. I know at least 2 people who were denied recycling bins and have no option but to throw their waste in the black bin. Meanwhile, those who do have access to recycling simply mess it up and don’t seem to care about the planet at all.’
On the most challenging thing from the first day:
‘I think I was well prepared. My time at EcoVibe and reading all the A Week Without Plastic blogs has helped me make small changes to reduce my impact. My great grandmother used to avoid some products because ‘they just make more garbage’ so if she wouldn’t buy something, I don’t buy it either. The range of garbage making product varies from shower gels to bread in plastic wrappers and crisps. Whenever possible, I prefer the plastic-free alternative to anything.’
Life without vegan chicken nuggets!
We asked Kristiana what she had to give up for the week. She said:
‘Getting plastic-free food on the go requires some research, planning and access to either plastic free shops or large supermarkets. I had to slightly change my diet as I couldn’t buy any snacks and had to avoid products like vegan cheese, tofu and my favourite vegan chicken nuggets and frozen meat substitutes. I am from Eastern Europe and naturally eat lots of bread, I couldn’t buy any hummus or pitta bread. I either had to make my own from scratch or skip them altogether. I mostly drank black coffee for the whole week, as non-dairy milk is always in plastic packaging and I couldn’t be bothered bringing home-made almond milk to work. I love asparagus and broccoli but unfortunately, they are all wrapped in plastic in my local shop. I couldn’t find any loose spinach or kale. No greens for me during my plastic-free week. The worst thing is that plastic is processed with chemicals and this could be contaminating my food perhaps…. ‘
Next, we asked Kristiana if she made any adjustments to her daily routine.
‘I spent extra time cooking every day as I couldn’t buy my lunch or grab ready meals. My plastic free on-the go options were Greggs vegan sausage roll, loose fruit, nuts and veggies. I didn’t eat my favourite foods but other than eating, I didn’t feel any difference with my day to day life.'
How to be optimistic about the environment
On the most surprising thing Kristiana learned:
‘How to be optimistic about the environment and be less judgemental towards people. While some people care more than others, nobody is perfect, and it isn’t just individuals to blame. Recently I came across some great news from Ecosia and how their tree plantations help reverse global warming, all the emerging plastic-free products and solutions. Let’s not forget about the plastic-eating bacteria. While there is much more work we need to do to save the environment we could still save the world as we know it.’
The hardest thing Kristiana had to avoid were:
‘Medication, detergents which you can’t DIY and cosmetics which are yet to be made in plastic-free packaging, such as body firming lotions. I am not sure how long I could survive without buying doughnuts, vegan chicken nuggets and other foods I can’t buy unless in plastic packaging. This lifestyle requires lots of dedication. I could commit to it for one week but just like with veganism, some things you just can’t get. For example, some irreplaceable pills contain gelatine or dairy and come wrapped in plastic, regular fluoride toothpaste, anti-bacterial gel and much more.’
On slipping up at all:
‘Yes, I did, I feel like I failed when doing my laundry. I just know my clothing produces microplastics and swapping my outfits for eco-friendly alternatives simply wasn’t an option. I have super sensitive skin and use eczema creams from the pharmacist, which also come in plastic packaging. I haven’t found a plastic-free toothpaste which works for me.’
Overall, Kristiana found her experience….
‘Great! It helped me identify which purchases have a negative impact on the environment and how to improve my lifestyle. I will stick to some changes I made as much as possible. I will avoid ready meals I could easily swap for snacks from the deli, bought in paper bags. I don’t know what I’m going to do without some frozen meat substitutes and packed chilled foods though.’