Plastic? No thanks!

Doing without plastic is simpler than many people think. That was demonstrated by my four-week experiment.

Martin Franke tries to reduce plastic waste.
Martin Franke tries to reduce plastic waste. Martin Franke

Can you live without plastic? To be up front about it: no, not completely. There’s all kinds of plastic in cars, aircraft and technical gadgets. The material makes products light, cheap and durable. But it also has enormous disadvantages – from the visible pollution of the environment to the invisible contamination with microplastics, which end up back on our plates via various routes. My personal experiment to make do without plastic for four weeks only involved short-lived plastic material, which you can avoid using easier than most people think.

Hints for plastic-free shopping

I stopped using disposable takeaway coffee cups, in bars I order my drinks without a straw and I buy my bread from a baker. At the supermarket I get my yoghurt and milk in glass bottles and jars, although it is otherwise full of small plastic traps, like the plastic windows in the cardboard packaging for pasta. From cream cheese to smoked salmon, most food is wrapped in plastic and not always available in plastic-free form. That’s why going on a plastics fast also means making sacrifices.

I buy pasta, rice and muesli in special “unpackaged shops”. Fruit and vegetables are also available without packaging. In the bathroom a bar of hair soap replaces shampoo from the plastic bottle and I shave with a safety razor. My toothbrush is made of bamboo and the toothpaste comes from a glass jar.

Questioning consumption habits

I discovered that anyone who wants to live without plastic can manage that without a great deal of effort. The goal does not have to be completely renouncing it. Small steps are already very worthwhile. It is more complicated and sometimes more expensive, but you feel good and it leads to you questioning your own consumption habits: do I really need that? After my four-week experiment in most cases I can still say: plastic, no thanks!

Martin Franke
Martin Franke was born in 1989 and works as a journalist for FAZ.NET, the online edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. As part of his reporting on plastic waste he tried to forego plastic for four weeks.

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