Coo coo for plastic containers

 Ljósmynd/Unsplash

Ljósmynd/Unsplash

Translation : Lísa Björg Attensperger

Urban Dictionary describes the phrase “coo coo for cocoa puffs” as a “term used to describe a patient or person that has delved into a realm of irrational, illogical and/or crazy thought processes.” You could say I went coo coo for cocoa puffs when trying to go plastic-free this September as part of the campaign Plastlaus September (Plastic-free September), which encourages people to avoid disposable plastics all month. I started out optimistic: I brought a tote bag with me whenever I went shopping, and for a while I only bought things that didn’t come in plastic containers.

But as much as I wanted to eliminate plastic from my life, I found I was denying myself of things simply because they came with disposable plastic. I became sad every time I saw vegetables wrapped in plastic and felt guilty whenever I would use disposable plastic. In addition, I annoyed the hell out of the people around me who were not as preoccupied with plastic as I was, and I missed being able to munch on a bag of chips on a Tuesday evening over Netflix.

After about the first two weeks of feeling a sense of dread whenever there was plastic involved, I decided I needed to change my attitude. I realised that even though campaigns like No-plastic September are a great way to get people thinking about their plastic consumption, it’s dangerous to think that you can just stop using plastic for a month but then don’t continue to do it in general.

My goal became to be aware of how much plastic I was using in my daily life and I would like to share with you what I learned, in case you are interested in doing so yourself or are just curious.

 Ljósmynd/Unsplash

Ljósmynd/Unsplash

1. I made my own hair products. Those who know me know I have a difficult relationship with my hair and what I put in it, so this wasn’t an easy step for me. On average I go through about two bottles of conditioner a month and this was something I wanted to change. I’m still taking my first steps in DIY hair care but I was really surprised by how easy it turned out to be.

2. Vegetables don’t always have to be wrapped in plastic. Maybe the staff is annoyed with me when I put the avocados and tomatoes directly on the conveyor belt at the register but it has never made a difference to me. For those who are uncomfortable letting their vegetables run loose, you can buy reusable vegetable produce bags (available at Krónan or Heilsuhúsið) or re-use old plastic bags.

3. In a given month women use an average of over 20 menstrual pads and/or tampons,which are usually wrapped in plastic. One product, the menstrual cup, can replace all of this. I took this opportunity to finally try it out and I feel silly for not having done so earlier. It’s both an easy to use and non-toxic solution and I recommend that all women at least try it.

4. Did you know that you could be using paper bags or old newspapers instead of a plastic garbage bag? The only inconvenience is that you might have to take out the trash more often, but then again it’s so much better than all the plastic bags we throw out every week.

5. If you want fast food, you’re gonna get plastic too. Laziness and a plastic-free lifestyle don’t really go together and the best way to use less plastic is to make home-cooked meals. As much as I love cooking, sometimes I just want to be lazy and order in. But that doesn’t necessarily mean I have to get all the extra condiments when I can easily prepare those myself in advance so that they are readily available when the craving calls.

I’m still working up the courage to say no to a plastic straw whenever I order a drink at the movies, restaurant or bar, but someday I’ll get there.

6. You can’t change others but you can influence their actions. Remind the people around you that they should be aware of their plastic consumption. Encourage them to recycle plastic - it’s so easy. If they’re in doubt about what can be recycled, www.sorpa.is has a comprehensive guide. As an example, most people don’t know that you can recycle the empty bags of chips that pile up in your bedroom. I don’t have to feel guilty anymore knowing my Lays bags will be recycled and gain a new life.