A hidden world of plastics

Naomi Gaspar is our newly elected president for Plastic Diet. Naomi explains how her Two Weeks Without challenge has challenged her to rethink consumer responsibility and focus on the responsibility of our government and corporations in cutting out plastic pollution.

You know that a challenge really has an impact when it starts challenging your own beliefs. When I embarked on the Two Weeks Without Plastics challenge, I believed that cutting out your own plastic consumption and waste would be difficult, but definitely not impossible. That was when living without disposable or recyclable plastics meant that I would no longer see myself purchasing or disposing of any plastics. Then I started eating out more.


Challenge Day#1: Ditching the ol' VOGEL's and almond milk. Plastic-free #feelgood moment.

I've worked in retail and in restaurants, and I know that these industries waste and consume A LOT of plastic, even though it may not be obvious to the customer who ordered a milkshake with no straw, please. Most milk bottles I've seen in New Zealand are made fully or partly of plastic or have a ridiculous plastic lining on the inside. I can't even buy almond milk anymore, because of the annoying plastic screw cap it comes with... if I ordered a non-takeaway coffee with almond or soy milk, could I still call myself 'plastic-free'?

During my first 'plastic-free' week, I have had many experiences that seriously made me doubt my own ability to go even two weeks without plastics. (Note to the reader: I was taking the challenge really seriously and not even eating someone else's chips from a plastic bag. I also forced a friend to walk 20 min with me carrying metal spoons in our mouths to satisfy a sudden craving for frozen yogurt. Note to self: Cravings are never convenient). Last week, I got a new job at a restaurant, and had to go shopping for white button down shirts. Here's a challenge for you: Try completely avoiding plastic price tags and plastic fibers when you go clothes shopping. To those who are quite new to the concept of plastic fibers in clothes, check out this blog post about the 'plastics we wear'. I came out with 2% elastane and a plastic tag from Farmers, and 100% cotton with seemingly no plastic (unless the string for the price tag was fake leather) from Cotton On. Win, I suppose. This still doesn't give me much comfort though. I've heard that garments from Esprit arrive at stores wrapped individually in plastic. Ugh.

Bottom line, I have managed to keep plastics away from my own rubbish and recycling bin, but there will be no real change, so long as no one challenges all the hidden plastics from the businesses we use or love. Let's bond over our grassroots efforts to 'deplastify' our own lives, but most importantly let's demand our governments to make industries deplastify themselves, so that we and the species we share our planet with can truly enjoy living without plastic pollution.

Waste (including plastic waste) is generated at every step of the production line from extraction to distribution to consumption to disposal. Watch this 11 min video 'Forget Shorter Showers' for more perspective: 

 Forget Shorter Showers: "Personal change does not equal social change." "Municipal waste [from households, governments and corporations] accounts for only 3% of total waste production in the United States."



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