Have you heard of plastic free Tuesday? I had not heard of them before until I stumbled across their work a year ago which spurned me on to reduce our plastic waste even more. At the end of last week I had the pleasure of interviewing Plastic Free Tuesday founder Annemieke Van Den Dool to find out all about plastic free waste and what we can do to reduce our plastic consummation.
Hi Annemieke, I am so pleased to meet you;
What inspired you to start Plastic-Free Tuesday?
- Years ago I watched a TED video by plastic-free pioneer Beth Terry about her plastic-free life. This was the first time I reflected upon the vast amounts of plastic and plastic waste in our societies. A few years later I read yet again another news item about how plastic ends up in the intestines of bird, causing a painful and slow death. This is when I decided to, just like Beth Terry, do something about the problem of plastic pollution. I started a weblog, in Dutch, where I documented my journey towards living with less plastic. The blog still runs at www.plasticminimalism.blogspot.nl. After a year of blogging I lived an almost plastic-free life. Yet, news about animals dying from plastic kept coming. It was time to get more people involved. But it had to be easy and fun and without any pressure and extremes. I strongly believe that taking one small step at a time is the best way for achieving lasting behavioral change. And most people like to take up a challenge, especially if it’s for a set period of time. In my experience it is exactly this one day that is a huge eye-opener. Not buying or throwing away any plastic for a day is enough to trigger a whole new way of looking at the world. Keeping in mind it had to be easy and fun, I came up with the idea of Plastic-Free Tuesday. Inspired by Carefree Sunday and Meat free Monday.
What impact does plastic have on the environment?
- Plastic is burden for the environment in a number of ways. It already starts before the production. Most plastic is made from crude oil. This has to be extracted, shipped, refined, turned into plastic, shipped again to eventually end up on the shelve of a supermarket at the other side of the planet. While in fact, we don’t need all that disposable plastic. Depending on what we use the plastic product for, we throw it away just minutes or days after buying it. Even if you sort your plastic waste for recycling, your plastic waste doesn’t just evaporate. It needs to be collected, transported, sorted based on the type of plastic and its color, melted, manufactured into plastic pellets, to eventually end up in a new product. But, mind you, what we commonly call recycling is in fact down-cycling! A recycled water bottle doesn’t get a second life as a water bottle, but will become a lower grade plastic and as such be turned into textiles, backpacks, and doormats. But these products too will eventually end up in a landfill or incinerator. So plastic uses up valuable, limited resources to eventually end up in ever expanding landfills or pollute the air through incineration. Even worse is that a lot of plastic ends up in nature as litter. This plastic easily ends up in waterways where it eventually drifts towards the ocean, joining something we call plastic soup. This soup consists of billions of tiny bits of plastic floating in the water. Plastic doesn’t break down as paper or veggies do. It only breaks down into ever smaller pieces of plastic, so that it can easily infiltrate marine environments and animals mistake it for food.
How does Plastic-Free Tuesday help people become more aware of the environmental impact plastic has on the environment?
- By taking the challenge to not buy any plastic and to not throw any plastic away for just one day a week, many people (including myself) have come to realize how much our societies depend on plastic. And all of that plastic we use and dispose must eventually go somewhere. Through our activities online we highlight the consequences and impact of plastic on the environment, on our health, and on our (financial) resources.
What support do you offer people looking at cutting plastic out of their lives?
- Every Tuesday we publish a blog post in which we share tips and ideas for reducing your plastic footprint. We´re also often approached on social media when people have specific questions, for example where to buy plastic-free cheese in London or what kind of plastic-free laundry detergent to use. At the moment our team is working on the Ultimate Plastic-Free Global guide, which will be an online database in which you can search for plastic-free products and solutions in your city.
Can you share some cool tips on how we can reduce our plastic waste in our homes?
- A very effective way to reduce your plastic footprint is to always bring your own bag, so that you can always say no to plastic bags in shops. Just put a reusable bag in your purse, backpack or car so that you cannot forget it.
- Another easy solution is to get a couple of reusable produce bags. You can either buy them online (just search for “reusable produce bag” or browse Etsy) or make them yourself. Make sure though to avoid buying bags made of polyester or other synthetic material. This too, is plastic and every time you put them in your washing machine, tiny pieces of plastic will go down the drain.
- Finally, get yourself a nice reusable water bottle and a reusable lunch bag or box. I like Klean Kanteen, but if you like glass better, go for a mason jar. You can even use them for food! Jars are beautiful and very trendy at the moment.
How can people get involved in Plastic-Free Tuesday?
- We would love you to join Plastic-Free Tuesday! Just say no to plastic on Tuesdays! It´s as easy as that.
- If you would like to do more, please help us get the word out. You can do so by writing about Plastic-Free Tuesday on social media. Please also follow and like us on social media and by sharing our posts.
- Also, we would love to hear from you! We are always looking for guest blogs in which people share their day without plastic, their solution to plastic pollution, or their favorite plastic-free products. If you want to contribute by writing a guest blog or otherwise, please get in touch with us through our website (click ´Contact´). Happy Plastic-Free Tuesday!
Have you reduced the about of plastic you consume in your home and work life or are you thinking about reducing the amount of plastic you consume?
Do you have any tips you can share with us on how you reduced the amount of plastic you use?