Zero Waste (ish): One month without plastic packages – Part 4: Is it over?

Did I starve? How many times did I sin? Did my life change in any way?

Seeing my first post from this series you might be curious how was my plastic-less life in general? Not focused on single experiences, but this raw truth of a general well being of a pretty normal person starting to avoid plastics.

 

How was life in general?

First of all, after the first shock, things started to look better. Much better. Did I feel any limitations? Sure, but functioning normally in German reality was not difficult. Discovering bulk shop, shopping at the farmers market and discovering glass-packed alternatives for everyday products made it pretty easy.

I didn’t have to resign from all simple life pleasures as well! No.

Grilling? No big deal! Sweets? No problem!

 

So what was problematic for me?

  • Cooking complicated food – you can easily find simple food, but if you want to try something fancier it might get tricky. Baking was challenging in particular. I read there is a baking powder in the non-package shop close by, but yeast? Haven’t seen.
  • Salads – I know it does count as cooking, but I need to admit that this month was the most saladless in last couple of years. Seriously. And I love salads, especially in the summer! The main difficulty was getting fresh (not half dead) rocket or lamb salad or any other salad without plastic. Other veggies? Easy! Salads? Mission almost impossible. But it might be just my experience. But seriously, I ate only 3 meals with a salad this month. Normally it’s closer to 25 – 30.
  • Guilty pleasures – For sweet tooths, it’s pretty easy, but I don’t care about chocolate much. I’m more tortillas and guacamole kind of gal… I had to get used to just guacamole and salsa. With bread I guess.
  • Pre-prepared food – it’s difficult to find something to eat fast on the spot. Almost everything prep-prepared is packed in plastic. Quite early I decided to just give up on frozen food and concentrate on cooking food myself. It was a bit time consuming though. The only hope lied in ready pasta sauces.
  • Takeaways – It might be pretty tricky to find something without any plastics. Even when there is mostly paper, many things have tricky plastic elements. If you don’t have your fork available, the tricky element might be the fork.

Sounds a bit bad, right? Not really. It was not super easy, I admit, but it had pretty many advantages! Some of them were a bit unexpected.

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What was AWESOME?

  • I ate healthier – avoiding pre-prepared food and guilty pleasures did a pretty good job of forcing me to think about what I eat. After I finished my non-plastic days I thought I will throw myself on chips, but no. I actually wanted to buy it, but when I was possing salty snacks shelves I decided to skip it. I felt much less tempted than before. The problem of being used to giving in to some of the temptations that it’s easier each time if you keep doing it. But if you stop even for a while you somehow get your inner discipline back. Definitely worked for me.
  • I ate tastier food – I think the food I prepare tends to be better than any frozen thing. Not necessary because I’m such a badass in the kitchen, but because those things are fresher and I could cater to my taste buds in particular.
  • I discovered a lot of tasty products – Some things I buy automatically, even if I like to think of myself as a person loving experimentations. Without this challenge, I wouldn’t find my new favorite pasta, because I wouldn’t know about package-free shops, where I found it. My fiance discovered his new favorite milk brand and he ate „one of the five best steaks in his life”.
  • I had a chance for much different shopping experience – I value new experiences itself, even if they are not exactly perfect. Those experiences were good, which make it more valuable. Definitely to plan to repeat it in the future.
  • Less garbage – it might be a small thing, but I HATE throwing out the garbage. It’s one of my least favorite chores. Not having to do it as often as I do normally, even a bit, was a great news for me.
  • I learned a lot – it was really enlighting to read about all sort of packages recycling, ways to reduce waste, alternative products and smart solutions that members of zero waste community came up with. I love being low-key surprised and the easiest thing is to learn something new.
  • It led to interesting discussions – I’m not shy about the new things I’m trying so they often lead to discussions., but this topic was surprisingly intriguing for many. Apparently many people have some opinions on the topic or at least some interesting questions. It was enlightening.
  • I felt that my parents are cool – That was pretty unexpected, but I felt some kind of connections with my parents during the process. They are not zero waste folks, but since I was a little kid they were always very serious about recycling. Since I live far away from them some I was more relaxed on the topic. I learned to appreciate their efforts more.

Did I sin?

Yes, I did. Not much, but still. There was one cheat day with a takeaway. Mostly I was sinning indirectly – somebody bought something and I was eating it as well. I haven’t bought those things technically, but you know… It’s a grey area.

 

What now?

That’s a good question. Fully plastic-free life is not yet something I am ready to participate in. I definitely plan on continuing reducing amount of garbage, especially plastic. I want to write more about the results of this challenge in the future because it gave me quite a bit of food for thoughts.

I enjoy positive aspects of zero waste community – it’s great to see there are so many people of all ages that want to make the world a better place. I want to get inspired by them.

I’m not fully satisfied with my research on the topic yet, so I plan to continue it. It seems there are some polarised opinions what is eco and what is not and I still don’t have that much opinion to feel comfortable sharing it. I hope to have better ideas soon.

Did you try to reduce the garbage you produce? What was your experience?

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