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The Maastricht Diplomat

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Life in plastic, it’s fantastic

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

For three days during my holiday in Mexico I stayed on the Navopatia Field Station. The Navopatia Field Station is completely off the grid, as a millennial I struggle without 4G but there wasn’t even phone signal… I stayed in a rustic hut (the one in the photo), the shower was heated by propane and the toilets were open-air pit ones. I really connected with nature, woke at sunrise and went to bed at sunset, saw wild porpoises and raw birds- it was otherworldly. I was without any form of screen, had no interaction with the outside world and spent my days reading or walking.

All this time with nature resulted with me spending the morning of my last day walking along the beach with black bin bags picking up plastic; within 30 minutes 3 bags were completely full.

When I returned to Maastricht I looked around me and began realising it was everywhere. Plastic bags last for 500-1000yrs and I realised that I didn’t want my lasting effect on earth to have been just a pile of plastic bags. Therefore, I’m now attempting to reduce the amount of plastic in my daily life and it’s surprisingly easy.

I buy my fruit and veg at the weekly market in the Markt using canvas bags, I haven’t worked out how to buy berries as they often come pre-packaged. As a vegetarian I don’t have the stress of working out how to buy meat or fish plastic free. I also have metal tupperware which I put my leftovers in.  I still go to Albert Heijn to buy tins but now buy olive oil, pesto and more in glass jars, pasta and noodles can be brought in cardboard boxes.

For toiletries and make-up, I use shampoo in a bar form and a block of soap from Lush. My toothpaste is in tablet form and also from Lush, with my toothbrush being bamboo and 100% biodegradable. Makeup is hard so I’ve had to compromise with buying cruelty free or products with recyclable packaging.  

Yes, this may be more expensive than buying plastic packaged stuff but the products from lush have lasted longer than any bottle of shampoo or body wash. Although the upfront costs are greater, I spend less in the long run as the products last longer and my groceries are also cheaper now. A recent survey proves I am not alone in my environmentally conscious actions apparently, millennials are most likely to pay more for responsibly made products and roughly 80 percent want to work for companies that care about their impacts. So, it isn’t just me who believes the real cost of buying plastic is on the environment and not the wallet.

It does take more planning and more effort but when I think back to that beach in Navopatia and the stories I heard of baby birds dying of starvation because their stomachs were so full of plastic, they couldn’t even eat. I regularly have plastic free meals and know that pile of plastic bags accumulated so far in my life will not be growing anytime soon. I’m not trying to convert anyone to my way of life but would it really hurt to just bring a bag with you to Jumbo or buy a jar of pasta sauce instead?

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