A day in my life without plastic

New Delhi: A few days ago, when I stumbled upon the National Geographic ‘Planet or Plastic’ cover, it brewed up a storm inside me. I became more aware about my plastic consumption.

One day, as we were brainstorming issues that could be taken up on World Environment Day, I thought of a challenge: a day without plastic.

There’s nothing unusual about this challenge and I thought it would be easy. But unfortunately, I was far from successful.

Success# 1

On Sunday, June 3, I woke up to a bright, sunny and hot morning in Delhi. As I got down from my bed and was about to wear my slippers, I realised that the straps of my slippers were made of plastic. So, I had to ditch them and walk barefoot to my washroom.

Failure# 1

Then, I squeezed some toothpaste from my ‘plastic’ Colgate tube onto my ‘plastic’ toothbrush, which I had picked from my ‘plastic’ brush stand. Thankfully, my tongue cleaner is made of copper. I was getting late for work (yes, journalists work on Sundays) and I had to brush – so, I chose to fail on this one. I did throw my plastic brush stand and replaced it with my husband’s steel pen stand.

Failure# 2

After this, I proceeded with my shower, where I realised my bodywash, shampoo, facewash, loofah – everything – was packed nicely in plastic.

Failure# 3

While dressing up, I realised that my lenses, lens solution, body lotion, comb and the cap of my deodrant – they were all in plastic. I used it all. For those who are wondering why I didn’t choose to wear my spectacles over my lenses – I couldn’t because my spectacle frames are also made up of plastic.

 

Success# 2

After dressing up, thankfully my clothes were made of cotton, I moved to the kitchen to pack my tiffin – which ‘was’ made of plastic. I lay emphasis on the ‘was’ because now I pack my lunch in a steel tiffin box. No, I don’t have glass ones. Then, I realised I couldn’t even put the usual rubber band around my tiffin boxes. Do, I need to tell you why. So, I spilled my lunch a little but managed to reach office with a ‘plastic-free’ lunch in a jute bag.

 

Not sure if it’s success or failure

Forgot to mention, before leaving for work, I drank ‘hot’ water from my RO filter – which is made of plastic – in a steel glass because the cold water was obviously in a plastic bottle.

Failure# 4

I sat in my car, which has mostly ‘plastic’ interiors, and drove for work. Upon reaching office, I sat on my chair, which has ‘plastic’ handrests, opened my laptop and started punching on its ‘plastic’ keys, used the ‘plastic’ mouse, connected the ‘plastic’ charger and since I had had enough of it – I threw the ‘plastic’ cover of my phone.

 

Failure# 5

I have a ‘plastic’ water bottle in office and the glasses provided in my office to drink water from are again of the ‘non-bio-degradable’ material. So, I ditched it and used the mugs we get for coffee to drink water. It definitely increased my rounds to the water cooler – good part was I walked more than usual. Also, when I had my tea, I did not use the plastic stirrer.

On the left is the mug I used for drinking water and on the right are the glasses my office provides for drinking water.

Success# 3

I went to have my lunch in the cafeteria and didn’t heat up the food or have it in the plastic plates provided. Also, I did not take the straw they provide for having ‘chaach’.

This is someone else’s drink – with the straw.

Failure# 6

Finally, I pushed back home in my CNG car and reached home to see my mother-in-law heating up the milk, which she had just squeezed out from the plastic packaging and thrown it into the black ‘polybag’ inside the ‘plastic’ bin. The chapatis were kept in a ‘plastic’ casserole. It felt like fate was laughing at me.

I went in for a ‘guilt-ridden’ shower, had my food, watched some ‘Friends’ on my ‘plastic’ TV using my ‘plastic’ remote, switched on the ‘plastic covered’ AC, switched off the lights by pressing the ‘plastic’ switches and finally curled up to sleep – before I had to see any more of that material.

With 6 failures, 3 successes and one confused reaction, I would say ‘a day without plastic challenge’ was a total failure. Our dependency on plastic has increased so much that it’s getting almost impossible to live without it. But I am not going to give into this demon, so I have decided to take some first few steps to bring about a change in my life, which is full of plastic.

  1. Take my own ‘bio-degradable’ shopping bag
  2. No bottled water
  3. Take my own mug to the coffee shop
  4. Choose cardboard over plastic bottles and bags
  5. No straws and stirrers
  6. Will use menstrual cups rather than sanitary napkins – the packaging has incredible amount of plastic
  7. Food storage only in steel or glass containers
  8. Use glass water bottles
  9. While shopping, keep an eye out for refilling stations
  10. Recycle and reuse plastic that’s already there in the house

Although recycling can help reduce the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills, waterways and ecosystems, only a few types of plastics can be recycled by most municipal governments. The fraction that does get recycled still requires a lot of energy and water which just isn’t a good proposition when it comes to single-use items. Plastic garbage that ends up in landfills and oceans take hundreds of years to degrade, and there’s increasing concern about the toxins they release into the environment.

I am ready to break up with plastic, are you?