No Plastic, No Easy Feat

On my way home after a busy day at work, I changed my course and headed to the nearest coffee shop.

“Can I get an Iced Coffee, please?” I said to the Tim Hortons’ employee.

“We don’t have Iced Coffee right now.”

“Uhh.. umm strange. Okay, can I get a medium Iced Cappuccino then?” I asked reluctantly. I haven’t had an Iced Capp in years! But it’s way too hot to drink anything warm.

“Yep!”

“Great, thanks! Oh, and can I get it in my own mug please?”

“Sorry…?”

“I mean my travel mug. I bring it here all the time.”

“No. We can’t do Iced Capps in that because of our machine. Sorry!”

“Alright, I guess I’ll have a normal medium double-double then.”

Ughhhhhhhh! Suddenly, I was wishing I had just gone home. This was supposed to be a fun adventure – something to shake up my home-work-home routine – but now I’ve ended up with a hot coffee.

Right about now, you might be calling me picky, stubborn, divalicious, or something to that effect. Or, you might be thinking, “Does she know they have their own cups too?”

Yes, I do know that but I’ve been trying to avoid all things disposable for the benefit of the planet for over a month. You heard me, I’m trying to hop on the no-plastic, no-waste bandwagon. If you knew what I knew, maybe you would too. Maybe you already know and just don’t care or are too lazy. Trust me, I know what that’s like. I was just like you not too long ago.

But as luck would have it, I came across a video that blew me away (I’ve embedded it at the end of this post). Not to say that it will knock your socks off too, but it certainly spoke to me. I’d seen numerous videos about how plastic is taking over the oceans but the clip of the turtle in Amore’s video still haunts me. There is a very real, very big problem and we need to do our part to help – no matter how big or small our contribution.

I started with some purchases (glass straws, bamboo toothbrushes, bamboo toothbrush travel cases, because I’m extra). This happened pretty much instantly. Over the next few days, I took a hard look at everything I owned and consumed… and here’s a real footage of my face when I finally opened my eyes:

PLASTIC IS EVERYWHERE. No, I’m not talking about the oceans and landfills. I’m talking about in life. Think about it. My toothpaste tube is plastic. Coffee mug lids are plastic. Straws… hair clips… pens, my electric fan, Tupperware, food wraps, pencil cases, etc. I could go on and on and the list wouldn’t end. Do you get the point? It’s like I’d become blind to it.

Before we go into making drastic changes to cut out plastic from our lives, I think we a need major attitude adjustment as a species. I don’t know about you, but I was so unaware of my consumption habits (still am, by the way) it’s shocking. On more than one occasion, I have shared my new thoughts about plastic with friends over dinner and telling them how I carry my glass straw everywhere I go, WHILE I WAS DRINKING MY BELLINI WITH A PLASTIC STRAW! Heck, once I even took a picture of the cute little green PLASTIC elephant that the restaurant used to decorate my drink with. I mean come on.

I’m telling you, IT’S HARD. It’s been a struggle to cut it out even in small ways. Retraining my brain is tedious but it’s worth it. Today, I’m going to celebrate my victories:

  • I have used ONE disposable coffee cup from Tim Hortons or Starbucks in the last month. If I forget to bring my mug, I request the ceramic mugs or go without coffee. It hasn’t killed me yet but that’s a pretty effective way of remembering to carry it!
  • I have stopped using plastic water bottles altogether
  • I even carried my own travel mug at a friend’s BBQ so I could avoid using a disposable Red Solo Cup
  • I still have trouble catching myself and stopping to use plastic straws at restaurants
  • I try to finish my meals at restaurants because I know I can’t get it packed (don’t want to use their “disposable” boxes)
  • I now make my own toothpaste (two recipes: one with charcoal, and one with turmeric)
  • I’ve started using the menstrual cups instead of tampons. They say it can take 6 months to a year to get used to this. I admit it’s been a learning process but hey, even if I use 1-2 fewer tampons a month during the transition period, it’s something!
  • I’m starting to avoid shopping online or actually shopping at all. Packages usually contain plastic packaging materials.
  • I carry my own bag when I go shopping
  • Oh, and I try to shop for fruits and veggies at farmers’ markets, rather than big name stores. Even if you take your own bag, the cucumbers are pre-packaged; you’ll need a bag for tomatoes; it’s a whole thing)
  • I bought my first Avalon milk (which comes in glass bottles instead of plastic). It’s delicious but TBH, it’s pricey. Not sure how long I can keep that up.

The goal is to start making homemade items (like deodorant, shampoo, etc.) so I can avoid the plastic packaging they come in. I don’t have solutions and alternatives for everything in life but I’m sure I’ll figure it out.

Truth be told, I should have been doing a lot of these things already. But I wasn’t. I was lazy, and I think I just didn’t care enough. I know that sounds awful and absolutely the worst, but it’s the truth. Everybody has to start somewhere, and here I am, taking my first steps, and sips of my HOT double-double when it’s 35 degrees. But hey, we all have to make compromises.

I hope you will join me in your own way, someday.


P.S. Here’s Sorelle Amore’s video about living without plastic for 30 days.

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