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.


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


“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.

Why Me?!

He told her he found someone better and there was nothing she could do about it. But she knew she could’ve made him stay if she had just tried harder. She could’ve been more flexible… given him whatever he wanted. But she failed and cost her son his father. She didn’t deserve forgiveness. She didn’t deserve happiness.

Someday, maybe, she would wake up and enjoy the morning vibrations. She would let it go and fly out of bed without the weight on her shoulders. But today was not that day. She dragged her heels to the sink and looked at the regretful woman in the mirror. Every time she thought of something she could’ve done differently, a new line appeared on her face.

She got dressed in her usual Saturday brunch outfit (khakis and the kurti she bought on her trip to Cambodia a few years back) and made her way to Granny’s to meet her son for brunch.

My, he looks just like him, she thought as she spent the day with her son. Ever since he moved out a few years back, she lived for their Saturday brunches. He would tell her about everything he had done and everyone he had met that week. He was so full of life and optimism and she couldn’t believe she had raised this wonderful man.

“Who is this, Sammy?!” she stared at the photo of a man on her son’s phone, perplexed.

He put the phone down and took her hands in his own as if protecting them from the world. Sam looked into her eyes and said, “18 years is a long time to be on your own, mom. It’s time.”

She was alarmed at the amount of information he had dug up about the man. Clearly, he had thought about this for a while. Nelly loved her son more than anything in the world. He was her everything. She had never denied him and she wasn’t going to start now. “Okay, I’ll go. One date and that is all.”

Sam took care of everything! He picked the restaurant, he set the date, he even told her what she would like on the menu. So, Nelly got ready for her date, the first in 30 years. She expected to be nervous, but she was surprised at her own calmness. She spent most of her time wondering about her life…

What would she talk about with this man? Why is he single? Does he know what I look like? Why would he agree to buy me dinner? She laughed at herself for asking that question. “I actually judge him for wanting to take me out.” But seriously, where would this go? I couldn’t dream of getting married again. What would I even do with a partner? Watch movies on Friday nights? What movies? He probably hates Meryl Streep. Well, this is just hopeless…

When you live a certain way for that much time, you forget how to live any other way. Before she knew it she was late! She rushed to find her car keys and headed over to the restaurant. “I’m looking for Harold?” she told the receiver who led her to the table.

Harold rushed to stand up as he saw Nelly approaching and knocked over his scotch in the process. “Son of a bitch!” he snarked instinctively but quickly felt embarrassed when he realized he was on a date and probably shouldn’t say that.

“Hi, I’m Nelly.”

“Hi, Nelly. I’m Harold. It’s nice to meet you.”

“I see you’ve already ordered something.”

“Yes, I’m sorry. I got here quite early. Would you like to order something to drink? Here’s the menu.”

Harold looked at Nelly as she scanned their wine selection and thought, I can’t believe she agreed to go out with me… why me?